Aids Health Care Foundation (AHF), an NGO, on Tuesday in Abuja called on the Federal Government to show commitment to the Nigerian girl-child by investing in their menstrual hygiene.
Mr Michael Weinstein, President of the Foundation, made the appeal at the distribution of 330,000 sanitary pads to young girls ahead of the International Day of the Girl-Child.
The global girl-child day is celebrated annually on Oct. 11.
Weinstein said that prioritising the menstrual hygiene of the girl-child would empower young girls in developing their capacities and leadership skills, as most girls in Africa were extremely disadvantaged.
Weinstein said most often young girls in Africa had to skip school and stay home because they could not afford to buy sanitary pads during their menstrual periods.
He added that menstruation, which was natural and integral to a growing woman’s development, should not be a barrier to her success or meant as an embarrassment or shame.
Weinstein further urged the Nigerian government to give every girl-child confidence to succeed in building a better world.
Also speaking, Mr Job Ominyi, Wash, Sanitation and Hygiene Officer UNICEF, defined menstruation as a natural and normal biological process experienced by all adolescent girls and women.
Ominyi said parents, guardians, teachers and the government should serve as advocates in ensuring proper menstruation management of the girl-child.
He urged the Federal Government to create a favourable learning environment for children by providing hygiene facilities in schools to ensure proper treatment and examination.
Dr Joe Odumakin, a women’s rights activist and President, Women Arise for Change Initiative, said there was no justification for a girl-child to grieve in maintaining herself during menstruation.
She noted that sanitary pads were sold at exorbitant prices from N300 to N500, which the poor and less privileged girls were unable to afford.
“Most girls in rural communities cannot afford sanitary pads; they suffer self-esteem, become demoralised and stay out of school due to embarrassing moments they have experienced.
“There are health implications when they use alternatives such as wrappers and cotton wool which can cause them infection,’’ she said.
Odumakin further called on manufacturers and youths to be innovative in producing sanitary pads at cheaper rates for young girls as condoms were made available and free for men.