In Nigeria, menstrual health, feminine hygiene, and reproductive health are under-discussed topics that people shy away from. If not discussed properly, this lack of awareness can result in serious issues for women, from infections that could lead to sexual and reproductive diseases to early pregnancies. Religious and cultural norms also impact young girls in ways like not allowing menstruating women to partake in certain activities and not allowing them to prepare certain foods. Some women even become embarrassed and do not go to work or attend school because they are menstruating. To end these stigmas and discuss the possible health issues, YES alumni brought the “Pad a Girl '' campaign to a secondary school in Maiduguri, Borno.
Blessing Ogbu (YES 2013-2014, hosted by YFU in Clifton Forge, Virgina) decided to do this project because she noticed that menstrual hygiene was a problem for the women that work with her at a hostel. “Many of the women and young girls won't come to work because they are at home and don't want to be embarrassed in public because of their periods,” Blessing said. “We need to educate them to be more protective of their bodies and to be aware of the hormonal
To start the day, sophomore through senior aged girls gathered to listen to the main speaker of the event. Dr. Kanadi Peter educated the young women about reproductive health, menstrual hygiene and how to use a pad. Dr. Peter also discussed the use and importance of contraceptives and condoms. Since the community is predominantly muslim, these topics are often not discussed. By talking about these issues, the alumni and Dr. Peter hopes that the young women will decrease their chances of getting vaginal infections and having early pregnancies. After the lecture, the girls had a chance to ask questions openly or by writing their thoughts down on a piece of paper. The alumni then taught the young women healthy tactics such as how to stay healthy, deal with cramps and the effects of hormone imbalance during menstruation. They were also shown how to count their menstrual cycle and how to correctly wear a pad including the length of time one pad should be worn.
Throughout the entire event, the alumni were able to give out 800 pads to the girls to use to start improving their menstrual hygiene routines. There was also enough to leave 15 packs of pads in the school’s first aid box so a girl could access one while at school. The event also left the young women enlightened and taught them that they do not need to put everything on hold when they are on their period. The young women know now that they can go about their daily activities during their periods. They just need to pad themselves up!