No more limits: Girls learn how to make their own sanitary pads
UNICEF is working with local communities, schools and governments to research and provide information about menstruation, promote positive hygiene habits and break down taboos.
OSUN STATE, Nigeria, 28 May 2018 – For many girls in Nigeria, getting their period means putting their lives on hold. In some places, menstruation is associated with stigma and girls feel embarrassed, often excluding themselves from school and other social activities during their periods. Lack of access to functional and segregated toilets, limited information on menstrual hygiene management, and limited availability of sanitary materials to manage menstruation make it more difficult for girls to manage their periods.
Sanitary pads are expensive and often inaccessible. Some girls resort to managing their periods with pieces of rags or paper which are often unhygienic and uncomfortable. Others ask for permission to leave school premises and many stay at home during their periods.
“When they don’t have enough money to buy hygiene products, they usually stay at home,” says a female teacher at a Community Middle High School in Osun State.
UNICEF is working with local communities, schools and governments to research and provide information about menstruation, promote positive hygiene habits and break down taboos. UNICEF also provides adequate facilities, including toilets, and water to schools in some of the poorest corners of the country.
To help girls feel more comfortable and manage their periods better, UNICEF, with funding from Canada, trained forty girls from four different high schools in Osun State, southwest Nigeria. The week-long training included sessions on how to use sewing machines and locally sourced fabric to make hygienic sanitary materials. The girls were also trained on using and maintaining the re-usable pads. In addition to these girls, 80 female students in Anambra and Katsina States were trained in the production of re-usable sanitary pads.
The pads are made of cotton, they are washable and reusable. Girls can use each pad for over twelve months. A set of about 5 pads cost about 450 naira. This is significantly lower than the price of the disposable pads. The materials for the pads are locally sourced and girls find it easier to manage their periods during school hours and at home too.
In Osun, Anambra and Katsina States, 120 girls have attended these trainings, and now make their own sanitary pads. Similar trainings are being conducted for women in the communities to scale up the production, use and management of reusable sanitary pads for girls.
“Meeting the hygiene needs of all adolescent girls is a fundamental issue of human rights, dignity, and public health,” said Job Ominyi WASH Specialist at UNICEF Nigeria. “This training is just the beginning. Together with partners, UNICEF Nigeria aims to reach over 1000 girls with these types of interventions in 2018.