Menstruation is a natural fact of life

In Niger, only 30% of girls have heard about menstruation before their first period according to a UNICEF-supported research

By Islamane Abdou and Salamatou Himou
Menstruation is a natural fact of life
UNICEF/Niger/Islamane
08 October 2020

Every girl has the right to accurate information about her body. In Niger, gender inequality, discriminatory social norms, cultural taboos, poverty and lack of basic services often cause girls’ and women’s menstrual health and hygiene needs to go unmet. 

In Niger, UNICEF produced a creative video showing the stigma that girls face in Niger to talk about menstruation and the numerous rumors about menstrual health and hygiene (MHH) that tend to stigmatize women and girls.  

As in many other countries within the region, there is a long tradition of viewing menstruation as 'impure'. The story talks about a girl who has suffered from discrimination at her school, the hazards she went through and the reality behind these situations. 

In the villages across Niger there is the conception that if a menstruating woman touches sowing seeds, the harvest will not be abundant; that a woman must not braid her sister's hair during menstruation, otherwise she will induce hair loss; that menstruation is a woman’s business and that a man must not talk about it — these are just some of the numerous rumors about menstrual health and hygiene that tend to stigmatize women and girls. 

UNICEF Niger/Islamane

Thanks to DFID financial support, almost 300 schools have established Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) interventions in Niger. Under district plans, the approach is based on five steps, covering initial orientation of teachers and selected school members, the identification and training of peer educators – who then go on to lead school sensitization activities, including debates; experience sharing sessions between adolescent girls; community sensitization which extends to local administrators and traditional leaders; and the distribution of MHM kits.