By Mary Kabay
Orange Foundation along with its partners, Rainbo Initiative, Prevention First, 4Her, and Community of Practice, have on Monday 30th May, 2022, celebrated menstrual hygiene day by raising awareness on the theme: “Making Menstruation a Normal Fact of Life by 2030”. This auspicious occasion took place at the Orange-SL headquarters at IMMAT.
World Menstrual Hygiene Day is a day set aside to raise awareness and educate young girls and women about the importance and relevance of menstrual hygiene.
Orange Foundation donated menstrual hygiene kits to some pupils on the day with many more kits to be distributed to thousands of pupils across the country. The menstrual hygiene kits include, 5 sanitary reusable pads, sanitary soap, menstrual calendar, and hygienic wiper.
Welcoming guests to the occasion, Madam Priscilla Oke-Cheku acknowledged that it is an important day for women in our society maintaining that as the saying goes: “If you educate a girl child/woman, you educate the world”.
She added that thousands of women who menstruate are facing challenges and at least 500 million women across the globe lack adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene management.
“Inadequate WASH – an acronym which means Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH), particularly in public places such as schools, offices, and health centers, pose a major obstacle to women and girls in observing their menstrual hygiene in a private, safe and dignified manner,” she underscored.
Madam Priscilla continued that Orange-SL , through the Orange Foundation, has partnered with other organizations to raise awareness about menstrual health management, to collectively challenge the stigma of menstrual hygiene poverty and advocate for availability and accessibility of menstrual products and resources.
In highlighting the relevance and importance of Menstrual Hygiene Day, the Founder/Director of Prevention First Initiative, Madam Umu Alberta underscored that May 28th every year is celebrated as World Menstrual Hygiene Day, but was first recognized in 2014, as it was a concept that was put together by WASH United, a German non-profit organization that focuses on sanitation and providing hygiene for women and girls without accessibility.
She added that period poverty is a term which describes women and girls’ lack of access to hygiene facilities, as that has been a major challenge for women and girls in this part of the globe.
Madam Umu Alberta went on to say that stigma and shame that surrounds menstrual hygiene is a negative force that has been affecting young girls and women in our society.
According to her, the taboo related to menstrual hygiene has paved the way for girls to miss out on about 20% of their school work, adding that over 500 million woman and girls lack adequate menstrual hygiene facilities.
She emphasized that people need to learn and educate themselves about the subject matter, and it is important for people to know that menstruation matters, it is normal.
Martha Sumaila, the Communications Manager for Orange-SL, acknowledged that it is a pleasure to speak on a topic that has been branded as taboo and forbidden to speak about in our society adding that so many girls would rather stay at home instead of facing the embarrassment of society.
She affirmed that in this part of the world some of girls and women have never heard about menstruation and menstrual hygiene – women and girls are faced with the challenge of having no knowledge about their menstrual cycle or calendar.
Martha Sumaila went on to say that Orange-SL and the Orange Foundation have been working tremendously to support the Free Quality Education Program in the country, and the Orange Foundation has donated menstrual hygiene kits to schools across the country.
She concluded that accessibility is the key issue that affects women and girls in this part of the world and called on large number of nongovernmental organizations to come onboard and initiate ways to eradicate these problems emphasizing that girls don’t have to stay away from school because of periods, rather they should be treated in a dignified manner. She urged everyone to raise the awareness and spread the knowledge across the country.
The Deputy Minister 1 of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MBSSE), Emily Kadiatu Gogra, acknowledged the good works of Orange Foundation saying they have played a pivotal role in terms of educating the public about proper hygiene.
She went on to say that Orange-SL and Orange Foundation have helped greatly in promoting the free quality education program by building structures and providing educational tools for school kids.
Emily Kadiatu Gogra highlighted her first experience with menses and the challenges she faced especially with proper hygiene education. She urged girls and women to make use of the education being given to them and put it into practice.
Lela Eton, the Project Manager for Rainbo Initiative, affirmed that the main motive of Rainbo Initiative is to prevent and respond to Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and offer services to survivors.
She added that Rainbo Initiative, in collaboration with other organizations, has celebrated menstrual hygiene day in order to enhance and enlighten the public about the menstrual cycle. She emphasized that it is very important to include boys in sexual education and by doing that the stigma and taboo will be eradicated. She underscored that come 2030, menstrual hygiene will become a normal fact.
She concluded that Nongovernmental organizations should partner with top institutions and the Government to raise awareness and help change the narrative against women and girls dealing with menstrual hygiene.
The event climaxed with the handing over of menstrual hygiene kits to invited pupils from different schools.