Child Right Activist Advocates For Free Pads For Nigerian Girls
The increasing difficulty that needy women and girls face in handling their monthly periods due to lack of access to sanitary products, according to writer and child rights activist, Betty Abah, has made it pertinent for the Nigerian government to provide free sanitary pads to such women since they have been giving out free condoms for s*x.
Abah, who is the founder and Executive Director of The Centre for Children’s Health Education, Orientation and Protection, CEE-HOPE, an NGO that works with vulnerable children, especially girls, stated this at a one-day conference held in Lagos to commemorate this year’s Menstrual Hygiene Day, which witnessed the participation of about 300 children from 15 schools across Lagos and Ogun States.
READ ALSO: 790 SCHOLARSHIPS AWARDED BY ECOWAS- BUHARI
The conference was held on Tuesday at the Inner Court House of Glory Hall, Ifako- Ogba, Lagos, in collaboration with the NGO, Girls On A Mission, GOAM, Australia.
“The conference would serve the double purpose of drawing the attention of the government and other stakeholders to the difficulties that women and girls in prison, detention centers, in Internally Displaced (IDP) camps, those fleeing conflicts, those with mental health issues and those facing economic difficulties, face.
Before now, the period was regarded as a taboo topic, but it is time to end the silence and put it in the public domain.
This is something that affects millions of girls, especially because we are going through a major economic depression and many families’ purchasing powers are down to zero.
It’s time to ask questions such as ‘can sanitary pads be made more affordable for our women and girls? Can the government help with tax reductions or even make it tax-free so that needy women can afford them? Can they be distributed free of charge as is being done already in other countries? She asked.
According to her, the lack of money to purchase sanitary pads put many girls in a very vulnerable situation which makes them to be involved in contractual s*x to get money to buy pads and many get infected in the process while many girls miss school when they are in their period and have no money to buy pads.
“Imagine that due to unavailability of the sanitary pad, a child misses school. Some resort to the use of rags and other things that are harmful to health, this is not supposed to be so.
The government distributes free condoms for s*x which is by choice and I believe that if they can do that, why not also distribute free sanitary pads to women and girls for their monthly menstrual flow which is never by choice.”
Abah also said the event was to sensitize the school girls on how to avoid rape since they are the ones most targeted for rape as well as provide career and motivational talks.
Doctor and Founder, Atayese Health Network and Bambo Hospital, Dr Adeolu Olusodo, also buttressed the point that the issue of menstrual hygiene should be given more attention by the government as women are at the centre of procreation and therefore most relevant in the sustainability of humankind.
Dr Olusodo who also runs medical services for the ultra-poor in slum communities across Lagos lectured the students on the biology of the menstrual cycle and how they can understand their cycle and report abnormalities.
Yinka Kenny, founder of the YinkaKenny Girls Care Foundation spoke on menstrual hygiene management.
According to her: “Menstruation is a responsibility that nature has bestowed upon us, it cannot be avoided and we need to ensure we do our bit to stay healthy in order to avoid infections.”
She also advocated free sanitary pads for economically-disadvantaged women and girls. Eminent rape crisis management expert and Executive Director, Media Concern for Women and Children, MEDIACON, Dr. Princess Kayode-Olufemi, addressed the children on steps to take to avoid rape.
She explained that once they attain puberty, they can be pregnant and urged them to ensure they avoid unprotected s*x and rape.