For basic school girls in our communities, menstruation is not just the monthly flow of blood. It is a burden of understanding why she has to bleed, communicating her discomfort associated with the bleeding, accessing user-friendly and hygienic sanitary materials and determining when next “Miss Red” will near her head are some of the constraints in addition to the stigma from their male compatriots as well as their classmates. Some parents, the primary caregivers of the adolescents continue to transfer misconceptions on menstruation. All these have been factored in the department all-inclusive and holistic approach to menstrual hygiene management in some selected basic schools within the municipality.
From the 31st May to 4th June, 2021, the Department of Social Welfare and Community Development, Community Development Unit in Collaboration with Ghana Education Service, Ablekuma Central Municipal Directorate embarked on a sensitization and intervention program with students drawn from five (5) selected basic schools, with a school from each of the five (5) circuit from the district.
In all a total of two hundred and ninety six (296) participants were reached. This comprises of two hundred and fifty students (250) which consist of two hundred and twenty nine (229) females and twenty one (21) males with forty six (46) being teachers and parents. The education and intervention was to ensure and afford the children to stay in school during their monthly cycle. The table below shows the name of school, when it was held and number of participants
The facilitators at the meeting were from the Family Planning and Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), the District School Health Education Program Coordinator (SHEP), the Girl Child Coordinator at the District and Staff from the Community Development Unit.
The SHEP Coordinator opined that Menstrual Hygiene Day is an annual awareness day celebrated on May, 28th to highlight the importance of good Menstrual Hygiene Management at the global level. The main idea behind making this day is to change the social stigma associated with menstruation. The date May 28, was chosen to observe the day because on an average the menstrual cycle for most women is 28 days and the menstruation period for most women is for 5 days. She further said that menstruation is not a problem, poor menstrual hygiene is. Most women’s choice of menstrual hygiene materials are often limited by the cost, availability and social norms. She ascertain that “Period” are a fact of life. It isn’t something that we can change yet there is a stigma attached to “Period”. In many parts of our communities periods can stop girls from living their normal lives. Girls still feel embarrassed or ashamed when on their periods, use improper substitutes or sanitary products and even miss out on vital education because of them.
The girl child Coordinator on her part maintain that teaching the next generation of women about period and how to manage them safely and hygienically can play a part in helping stop the stigma around menstrual hygiene. Educating students and providing them with the right hygiene facilities will help give the girls the confidence not to be held back by their “Periods” Adequate sanitation facilities and access to feminine hygiene products are one part of the solution. Creating a culture that welcomes discussion and makes adequate education for girls is of equal importance. Menstrual hygiene management can be challenging for girls. In addition culture makes it difficult to discuss menstruation openly. This limits access to relevant and important information about the normal function of the female body. This directly affects their education and dignity. The representative from PPAG took the students through the proper use of sanitary pads as well as the hygienic way of disposing it off.
In conclusion, the boys were also educated on menstrual hygiene management to support the girls instead of stigmatizing them. The participants received disposable soft care sanitary pads from Sunda Company Limited. They were excited about the products since most of them could not afford sanitary pads every month. The girls were admonished to be more expressive with trained teachers and coordinators within their various schools. The holistic menstrual hygiene management intervention boosted the confidence of the girls present and positively influenced the perception of their male counterparts.