By Dayo Emmanuel
WaterAid Nigeria and PepsiCo Foundation have marked Menstrual Hygiene Day with training for teachers on handling young girls on menstrual hygiene and practical session for women on the production of sanitary pads.
The event which took place at the Igando Ikotun Local Council Development Area secretariat in Lagos recently, also featured a train-the-trainers seminar to equip female teachers who are expected to educate their female students on best practices in menstrual hygiene management.
Welcoming participants at the event, Program Manager of WaterAid Nigeria on WaterAid Nigeria and PepsiCo Foundation project, Godfrey Iloha, encouraged the participants to take the lectures and the practical session seriously so as to be able to deliver adequate lecture to their female students and relatives within the menstruation age.
Ilorha however advised the teachers to step down the training in their various schools to educate the female students.
“We would like you to take the message to your female students so that they can be well equipped, he said.
“Empowerment is not just only when you give people money, empowerment includes when you give them knowledge. So when you return to your various schools, please step down the education to the female students,” he said.
Telling them further on what to expect at the event, he said, “You would also be taught on how to use the reusable sanitary towels. When you use it, wash it and dry it properly then you can re-use. See whether you have saved money or not. These are things Pepsico Foundation and WaterAid Nigeria are bringing your way,” he added.
Menstrual hygiene day celebration with the theme: ‘We Are Committed’, attracted participants mainly women and teachers from communities in Lagos State to the Igando Ikotun LCDA hall which was packed full with responsive participants.
In her presentation, Mustapha Hafsah Abiodun, took the participants on the difference between sex and gender.
According to her, “Gender is the social and general role that is assigned to a man and a woman by the society while, sex is the natural phenomenon the way God has created humans.”
She also explained the place of equity in the society, stating that no child should be discriminated against.
“The female children sometimes may not be able to be in school when they are on their period. Just like a male child has the right to be in school, the female child also has the right to be in school.
“She should be able to tell her teacher that she has menstrual pain without being discriminated against,” she explained.
Stating further, she said, “The male children should be made to know menstruation is a natural phenomenon, we should teach them early, it is not bad for a husband to buy sanitary pad for his wife and it is not a bad thing as well for a brother to buy sanitary pad for his sisters.
“We need to enlighten our society especially our boys in school to support girls while on their period, they should not make jest of them. If the boys are enlightened from home, they will understand some of these things. It is our duties as teachers to enlighten our young girls to know their rights to clean environment even when they are on their period,” she said.
Another facilitator at the event, Mrs. Adedeji Rachael from Ojodu LCDA spoke to the participants on Myth and Taboos of Menstruation.
According to her, “We can refer to myth as a widely held but false belief or ideas. For instance, some dos and don’ts which everyone believes which are not the right things.”
She also defined taboo as, “A religious or social norm fitting a particular practice. We should break the silence so that people can speak out and be free. There are places when a woman is menstruating she must not talk about it, it is a taboo which is not right. We should break the silence.”
Participants took turn to share their experiences of their first menstruation and they all took lessons which they were enjoined to take to younger girls in the schools and communities.
In her own presentation, another teacher, Omolabake Adewole from Ojodu Primary School, Ojodu Berger, took participants on a topic, Breaking the Silence of Menstrual Flow and Menstrual Hygiene.
According to Adewole, “Menstrual health and women hygiene right are rights of women. As a woman, you must be totally clean when you are menstruating, and you have that right to yourself and should not be denied you.”
Continuing, Adewole said, “Once you spot your period, get a kit, a bag where you keep your pads. You can’t use a pad for a whole day, you have to be orderly and keep your materials clean. We have to break the silence to promote menstrual health.”
She enjoined teachers to be sensitive to the menstrual needs of their female children and students. “When a child comes to you that she is on her period and she has nothing to change, it is your duty as a teacher to assist that child with the material and teach her how to dispose the right way. It is your duty to instruct her on the importance of proper hygiene so she is not infected.”
On prevention of infection, she said, “You must prevent infection when you are on your period because at that time your body is opened. Ensure the place you are using to change is clean. Make sure the environment is clean, if it is not clean, clean it yourself so you don’t pick infection.”
She also enjoined teachers to build confidence in the girl child. “You have to protect the girl child and boost her confidence, nobody should intimidate her,” she said.
Lastly she warned against using soap to wash the private part because of the chemical substance in the soap. “When you are menstruating, don’t use soap to wash your private part because the soap contains chemicals. Use water, don’t manage water, use plenty water but don’t use soap,” she said.
Another facilitator, Adeoye Adedayo coordinated the exercise to demonstrate how sanitary pad is used and disposed properly.
Adeoye however explained various materials used in menstruation including the tampon which she explained is popular among female athletes, the menstruation cup, sanitary pads, cotton wool, tissue paper and clothes.
“You must dispose properly, you must wash your hands properly with soap and water. If you are in a place you don’t immediately have access to water, use the hand sanitizer,” she said.
She however educated the participants how to take care of the materials used especially in the case of reusable materials.
“You have to use bleach to wash your materials, if you don’t have bleach, you can soak it in warm water and add a pinch of salt. Then wash properly and spread under the sun. When dried and you bring them inside, iron them with hot pressing iron and fold them back into your bag,” she explained.
The workshop went into practical session during which facilitators took participants through the process of production of sanitary pads.
Also at the event was the Executive Chairman of Igando Ikotun LCDA, Comrade Lasisi Ayinde Akinsanya who was represented by the Vice Chairman, Comrade (Mrs.) Mojisola Badmus who also participated actively at the event.
“I appreciate the organisers of this event; WaterAid Nigeria and PepsiCo Foundation who have deemed it fit to support women with valuable information they will take to our young girls in the schools,” she said.
Stating further, she said, “The event has been educative and I have also learnt how to make the sanitary pad myself, you can see me doing my own practical and I am happy I got it perfectly.
“On behalf of my Executive Chairman, I appreciate the organisers for their efforts,” she said.