The wife of the governor of Ondo State, Arabinrin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, on Friday, called on government at all levels to show concern about girls’ menstrual hygiene.

She made the call during a virtual program held to commemorate this year’s World Menstrual Hygiene Day.

The world menstrual hygiene day is observed globally every 28th of May to highlight the importance of good menstrual hygiene management and issues for the most vulnerable and marginalised.

Speaking live on her Facebook page, the governor’s wife implored the government at all levels to have a sustainable policy that will help girls to have good menstrual hygiene. “Government has a role to play in trying to subsidise sanitary pad by supporting the company that deals in the production.

“You will be surprised at the things one hears. You can imagine how a schoolgirl would manage her periods if it costs a huge amount to buy a sanitary pad. How can you be buying pads at a high price? So the government needs to have an investment in the industry to ensure that the prices come down.”

The programme, whose theme was “Stepping Up Action for Menstrual Hygiene and Health”, was organised by Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu Foundation in collaboration with the office of the wife of the Governor, Ondo State.

The First Lady further charged boys and men to join the conversation, try to create an enabling environment and make sure relevant information is passed to both the girls and the boys, “menstrual hygiene education is for everybody, don’t separate them when you are teaching them about these things, ensure that they get this message directly, the boys are part of it also, we have to ensure that they are carried along, that they can support women in their lives who are going through this process” she said.

Mrs Akeredolu, a public health expert, called on all sectors to help prioritise the woman and girl’s menstrual hygiene, saying: ” The government, the private sectors, individuals, girls and boys, everybody needs to play their part to ensure that we can achieve the goals of the menstrual hygiene day, which is to create a world where every woman is empowered to manage her periods safely, hygienically, with confidence and without shame because it is a natural process.”

In the meantime, one of the guest speakers, Mrs Pamela Elekwachi, who explained some of the religious and cultural myths on menstruation, said, “There are a lot of stigmas and taboos associated with menstruation; I think we need to understand the cultural and religious contexts of it for us to understand and relate with these things.”

“ In the past, it was not hygienic for women to manage their periods, imagine in a time where there were no absorbing pads, there were no menstrual cups, imagine how women will have to manage it at that time, they have to be in a secluded place, they will not be able to go to the market, can’t go to the worship place and then religiously, some of them says that if a woman is on her period, she is not pure and would desecrate the holy place, and then culturally, they will say women do not need to do some certain things, some cannot serve their husband, imagine if such cultural or religious constraints restrict a woman, ” she further noted.

Mrs Pamela Elekwachi advised such practice and cultural myth should be abolished because of modern breakthroughs in menstrual hygiene products that enables a woman to manage her period with dignity, hygienically and in a more acceptable manner.

“These stigmas are culturally and religiously constructed, but we should realise that nothing should keep a woman back even in her periods because it is a biological process that all ladies celebrate.”

Another speaker, Marvelous Jegede, a Bemore Alumna of 2018 set, shared her story on how she got a broad knowledge on menstrual hygiene during the Bemore Summer Bootcamp, an initiative of Her Excellency to train girls in ICT, Solar, and other life-enhancing skills said “I never really had a clear message about menstruation then, except for my mother, who with her little knowledge gave me a lecture on sex education, menstrual hygiene, how to take care of myself, what to use during that period. So she said I could use a handkerchief to absorb the blood, but during the Bemore camp, we were exposed to a lot of menstrual hygiene lectures, how to manage our period, how to take care of ourselves and so on.”

Miss Marvellous further implored Girls to stay hygienic during their period, use reusable sanitary pad, that is affordable and hygienic if for economic reasons can’t afford disposable ones.

This year’s global theme, “Action and Investment in Menstrual Hygiene and Health,” calls for more action and investment in menstrual health and hygiene.

Story Credit: Oluwatobi Fademi, SSA, Media