By Okeoghene Oghenekaro
The Wheels of Hope Rising Foundation, an NGO, has said that the absence of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities in schools was a major challenge to girls’ education in Nigeria.
The NGO said that this is because the lack of such facilities posed a great challenge for girls and was a risk factor especially when they are menstruating.
Mr Adigun Temitope, the President of the foundation in a statement said it was discovered that most schools did not have any in place to support girls in ensuring menstrual hygiene during school hours, especially in the rural areas.
According to him, this makes a lot of girls in rural schools absent themselves from school during their monthly period.
He said it was discovered that traditional materials and inappropriate disposal of pads were common in the school and menstruating girls also experienced many restrictions, especially from religious activities.
Temitope said that the organisation had recently distributed sanitary pads to 532 students of Odewale Community High School, Ifo, Ogun State, after providing the beneficiaries with menstrual education.
He said that the project was organised in partnership with Always Nigeria’s #APadAGirl2025 Initative and Procter and Gamble Nigeria.
Temitope said that during the event, there was a health talk by medical experts on puberty, menstrual cycle and menstrual care.
“They were told that menstrual hygiene should always be discussed with high priority among girls and young women to guide them in menstrual care.
“Parents were encouraged to extend the new knowledge they had acquired to helping their daughters when faced with menstrual challenges so they see it as normal and natural occurrence,’’ he said.
The health experts said that boys and parents should also be involved in debunking myths and reduce the stigma associated with menstruation.
Temitope said that more needed to be done by stakeholders collectively in strengthening menstruation hygiene initiatives and programmes in rural areas and schools.
“Education on awareness, access to hygienic sanitary pads and deposal of pads need to be addressed accordingly.
“Schools WASH environment should be improved, which includes separate toilets for girls, water and cleansing materials and safe disposal of soiled materials.’’
Temitope said that the aim of the project was to sensitise girls between ages of 11 and 16 and young women between ages of 18 and 24, on the importance of using sanitary pads as against other unhealthy options.
“The event witnessed a mass turnout of students alongside teachers and some parents to understand the impact of menstruation education in promoting menstrual hygiene and care among girls.
“It is also to clear the taboos around menstruation for girls and young women.
“Our foundation recognises that menstrual hygiene is fundamental to the dignity and wellbeing of women, girls, and an important part of the basic hygiene, sanitation and reproductive health services to which every woman and girl has a right.’’
The foundation is a rural-based NGO which focuses on unlocking sustainability development through education for all initiative and facilitating quality healthcare support.
It has been in existence since 2008 and the main objective is to give hope to the less privileged including persons with disabilities.