About 80 per cent of young girls in Nigeria, drop-out of secondary school due to lack of money to buy sanitary pads during menstruation, according to the report on the Always Keeping Girls in School project.
Owing to the report, the project had provided and distributed over 8,000 free sanitary pads to girls in 29 schools in the Federal Capital Territory.
The Executive Director of Tabitha Cumi Foundation, Tayo Erinle, stated this during the presentation of the findings of AKGIS with key stakeholders and influencers held at Government Girls’ Secondary School, Dutse Alhaji, Abuja.
The event was organised by Mercy Corps Nigeria and funded by the United Kingdom Department for International Development, as well as Procter & Gamble.
The project was embedded in Educating Nigerian Girls in New Enterprises II programme, funded by DFID.
During the event, the Programme Director of ENGINE II, Mercy Corps Nigeria, Joy Aderele, described AKGIS as a complimentary programme. “While the ENGINE II programme is reaching over 18,000 girls in Kano, Kaduna, FCT and Lagos, AKGIS is reaching 1,800 girls in FCT only, and we are working in secondary schools.
“P & G has provided and distributed over 8,000 free sanitary pads to girls in 29 schools in FCT. We call it emergency sanitary boxes which contain pads. When a girl is seeing her period in school, she does not need to go back home. She will get to her guidance counsellor and get free pads and change.
“Our findings is that if girls do not have adequate information about menstrual hygiene, if they don’t have access to water and sanitation facilities, if there is no support for the girls at home and in the school, then they will have difficulty during menstruation because they do not have access to toilets or sanitary pads. That can make a girl miss school and ultimately lead to her dropping out.
“What we are doing is to fill the gap by providing information. We have provided information to guidance counsellors who support these girls with psycho-social counselling. In the cities, the statistics of girls who drop out of school may not be high but it is as high as 80 per cent in rural areas because they cannot afford sanitary facilities. They use rags and crude systems, which are not good for them hygienically. They are shamed because they get stained and laughed at.
“So, they stay away from school and say they’re sick and won’t tell the details of the problem. This has a way of affecting their academic pursuits.
“The girls have been taught menstrual hygiene management, even the boys learnt about it, especially how to support the girls. Instead of shaming and laughing at the girls, they were meant to understand that menstruation is a natural thing and they were born out of this process.
“What it has done really is to help girls because most marginalised girls in underdeveloped communities cannot afford sanitary towels and consequently miss about a week in every month from school. So, in a year if you calculate it, they’ve missed four months in school.
“Menstruation keeps them away from school. Now in the 29 schools where it was implemented, there has been 98 per cent attendance of school because the girls were provided with Always menstrual pad,” Erinle said.
Culled From Punch Newspaper