The Global Communities (GC) has commemorated this year’s Menstrual Hygiene Day (MHD) with a call on traditional authorities to abolish cultural practices that served as barriers against the social inclusion of young women and girls during their menstrual periods.
It said menstruation was a natural phenomenon embedded into females by God as a pre-requisite for childbirth and that menstruating women should be treated with the utmost divinity and respect they deserved.
Mr Alberto Wilde, the Country Director of GC, made the call in a speech read on his behalf by Mr Martin Sumbo, the Upper West Regional Coordinator of the GC, in Wa during an event to observe the MHD which focused on making menstruation a normal fact of life by 2030.
The GC had been undertaking a week-long series of activities in the region including radio talk shows led by children from selected basic schools in Wa, in-school sensitisation and route march among others to create awareness on the need to prioritise menstrual hygiene.
“Due to inadequate awareness and information about menstruation and its management, period or menstruation has been associated with negativity, shame, filth, and taboo, just to mention a few.
Some of our cultural practices have led to barriers around menstruation that result in some women and girls isolating themselves, missing school or work and even being excluded from taking part in certain activities in society”, Mr Sumbo explained.
He observed that young women and girls were faced with the challenge of accessing clean and hygienic menstrual hygiene materials, and private places for changing while in school or at home.
He said as part of efforts to help reduce those challenges, GC, in partnership with Be-Girl and the Ghana Education Service, had been implementing all-inclusive integrated and holistic MHM interventions for school children, their parents, and caregivers in target schools.
Mr Sumbo, therefore, encouraged the government, and civil society to promote good MHM by responding to the menstrual hygiene needs of young women and girls.
Madam Dimah Nandzo, the Wa Municipal Director of Education, said the many challenges associated with menstruation such as access to pads, the privacy to change when in school, and stigmatisation among others keep some girls out of school during their menstrual periods.
She added that despite the numerous menstrual hygiene educations for girls at home and in school, some girls still had challenges with their menstruation because “our system is not equipped well enough to take care of menstrual hygiene management efficiently.”
“As a result of these challenges, we have some females refusing to come to school when they are menstruating throughout the period and in their absence lessons are taught which will not be repeated and it affects their learning outcome”, she explained.
Madam Nandzo observed that those challenges also led to some girls dropping out of school while others got into relationships with men to get sanitary pads which said was unfortunate.
She advocated a supportive environment in schools to ensure that girls were able to manage their blood flow in an environment they don’t feel embarrassed, stressing the need for requisite facilities in school including clean water and soap for menstruating girls to change while in school.
She appealed to the government to create pad banks in schools to support girls who genuinely could not afford sanitary pads when menstruating.