Tackling Menstruation Shame

Nigeria

28 May is the Menstrual Hygiene Day! As part of my Empower Women Global Champions project, I wanted to share useful information with young girls and raise awareness about menstrual health. I chose a secondary school in the rural area of Essien Udim, Akwa Ibom state in Nigeria. My main objectives were to educate young girls on menstruation, debunk myths surrounding menstruation, provide them with sanitary pads, wipes and hand sanitizers to ensure maximum hygiene. We also placed emphasis on the importance of proper self-management as it is key to remain confident during menstruation. We encouraged junior students to talk to senior students about such issues and discuss among themselves without shame. 

It was a sunny day and the parents/teachers assembly happened to be ongoing when I arrived. I was granted five minutes to address the assembly and I quickly introduced myself, the Empower Women platform and information on joining the movement. Then, I invited the parents to join us in the refectory where the lecture with the students was going to be held. About 500 young pre-pubertal and pubertal girls and 500 parents were present. The students were initially shy when the topic was introduced but I managed to capture their attention and interests. Minutes into the lectures, the students became relaxed and began to ask questions about aspects of menstruation that they did not understand, to which I was able to answer using key facts. We all had a good laugh making references to some of the behavioral changes that young girls often put up to conceal their periods and we tackled cramp management during menstruation. The students were encouraged to educate their fathers and brothers at home about menstruation. Lastly, we stressed on how communities were making a woman pay dearly whenever they declare it is a taboo and impede her to reach her full potential. The Principal, Rev. sister Mabel Abayol Doo, was very pleased with the project and requested that the school should more involved in similar projects to empower women. 

This event made me reflect on the following: the greater the number of young girls and women we are able to reach and impact, the greater the future of empowering women worldwide. Through the Empower Women platform, I have learned that being a change maker requires taking little steps that add up to create gigantic outcomes as compared to my previous misconception, that it takes a lot to bring change. I have come to realize as a woman that the only barriers I have are the ones I permit. Let us continue to explore all avenues to Empower Women!

Photographer & Videographer Credit: Nwedobong Okon
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  • Adebola Adesina
    This is Great
  • Dr Rejoice Shumba
    Thanks for sharing. Indeed, we all have the power to become change makers. 
  • Abiodun Oladimeji
    Well done Nwedobong. Thank you for using the knowledge gained during your championship to make a change. 
  • veronica portugal
    Great to know the work of a EW champion
  • Oluwafunbi Alatise
    Some of our girls lack self-management during menstruation. This makes them lose their self-confidence and disallow them interact when and where necessary, which may deny them the exposure they need per time. Your project is a good initiative and such should be encouraged at all geographical region
  • Zanele Xaba
    This is a very humbling story , I know how menstruation has been turned out to be this ugly topic to talk about and it brings shame to a lot of young girls.

    this was indeed the best event , more young women need this .

  • Moudy Mugadzaweta
    A great read indeed and thanks for addressing this as i am very passionate about women empowerment an how it all starts there; in the school. Being  a victim of lack of knowledge and support while i was going through the initial menstrul phase, i relate very well to all the critical issues that you have put across. Its not up to the girl child to 'suffer' alone with something that the whole family can assist with when capacitated with enough knowledge. This is a level where the girl chils already starts losing self confidence, missing class and in the process affecting her future. Indeed its up to all of us to take sanitation and hygiene of the girl child seriously, starting from the little that we can do to assist. 
  • Farai Masuwa
    I salute you for addressing the  issue of menstrual hygiene management in an effort to empower the girl child. This is an area that is often disregarded in women's development and empowerment discourse and yet it present various challenges and hindrances in attainment of several womens rights such as education and health thus increasing gender disparities!
  • Immaculata Chiamaka Anudu
    Thank you Nwedobong for this initiative. I used to think that making an impact in a society is a huge and unattainable task, but your experience shows it is not. It involves reaching out to the groups we want to impact even if we start with one person, step by step we could reach more people. I have learnt one or two from your engagement and I will apply it. Let's empower our young girls.
  • Evelyn Bisona Fonkem
    Congrats dear
  • Teresa Abila
    Great initiative you undertook Nwedobong.I am certain that you totally changed the mentality of those young ladies who would then take the message to their communities.The ripple effect of your act is immense.I always tell people who I mingle with that it's only through volunteerism that countries and societies are able to tackle developmental challenges and transform the pace n nature of development.Some persisting and retrogressive cultures/taboos in our communities can only to eliminated by leaders sacrificing their time and resources to meet the needs of their societies.That's exactly what you have done!
  • Joy Eze
    Congratulations! Keep touching lives!
  • Michel Choto
    Well done Nwedobong, menstrual hygiene management is critical for girls empowerment!
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