By Victor Adeoti
Ijebu-Ijesa – Mr Femi Aluko, a UNICEF consultant, says denying women and school girls access to Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) should be treated as human right violation.
Aluko, who made the remark at a zonal workshop on MHM on Tuesday in Ijebu-Ijesa, Osun, said the challenges being faced by girls and women in the management of their monthly period must be urgently addressed.
He said that the misconceptions, myths and superstitions concerning menstrual blood and menstrual hygiene had potential harmful implications.
Aluko said such misconceptions include restriction of menstruating girls from performing such chores as cooking as well as tagging a menstruating unmarried girl as promiscuous.
According to him, the stigma and taboo associated with menstruation are human right issues which inflict indignity upon women and girls.
Aluko further noted that a research conducted by UNICEF in some selected schools in the country revealed that there was no conducive environment for menstruating school girls.
Also speaking, Dr Temitayo Ogunsanwo, Osun UNICEF MHM Coordinator, said research carried out by UNICEF in some selected schools in the country revealed that many of the girls were not knowledgeable about menstruation before their first experience.
Ogunsanwo said negative, societal beliefs, attitude and practices still existed on MHM in schools and communities.
She said the media, religious organisations, NGOs, traditional rulers, community leaders and other stakeholders should be engaged in breaking the silence and taboos around menstruation.
Some of the participants, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) at the workshop, said every stakeholder must be involved in the campaign against taboos around menstruation.
Mr Ayo Okelana, the Executive Secretary of Cleannation, a non-governmental organisation, said there was urgent need for government, media, private sector and individuals to be involved in breaking the silence and taboos surrounding menstruation.
Okelana said awareness about menstruation leads to better reproductive health, greater self esteem and better academic performance.
He noted that inadequate knowledge about menstruation had led to early or child marriage, harassment and teenage pregnancy among adolescent school girls.
Another participant, Mrs Adebanke Balogun, said the workshop had changed the orientation of many of the participants about menstruation.
Balogun , who noted that the workshop had revealed that MHM was everybody’s business, said participants would share the knowledge of the workshop to women and girls in rural communities.
NAN reports that menstruation is the regular discharge of blood and mucosal tissue from the inner lining of the uterus through the vagina.
NAN also reports that a 2012 UNICEF report reveals that an average woman menstruate about 3,000 times in a lifetime from menarche to menopause and uses up to 11,000 pads.