The Northern Governors Wives Forum of Nigeria (NGWF) has stated that poverty and ignorance are the twin reasons large number of girls and women in the country struggle with their menstrual hygiene.
The group, which made this known in a statement to commemorate the World Menstrual Hygiene Day, said: “Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) remains an essential aspect of adolescent girls and women. However, a large percentage of girls and women in developing countries struggle with menstrual hygiene management because they do not have enough understanding of this issue or cannot afford to buy menstrual hygiene materials.
“A study conducted by UNICEF in 2015 identified the main challenges associated with MHM as: Lack of WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) facilities; inadequacy and paucity of information on MHM; and poor access to hygiene materials affect girl’s menstrual health management.
“Research in Nigeria indicates that girls in impoverished and poor communities prioritise food and clothing over the expense of sanitary protection.
“As a result, girls between the ages of 12-18years can miss up to 50 days of schooling annually. Such girls are left with 3½ years less education than their peers by the time they are required to write their final secondary school examinations.
“Failure to address the menstrual hygiene needs of women and girls therefore has far-reaching consequences on basic hygiene, sanitation and reproductive health, ultimately affecting the achievement of SDG goal 5 on gender equality.”
The statement added: “Given the multiple challenges women and adolescent girls face, it is evident that promoting menstrual hygiene management (MHM) is not only a sanitation matter; it is also an important step towards safeguarding the dignity, bodily integrity and overall life opportunities of women.
“May 28th has been chosen as World Menstrual Hygiene Day. Consequently, in keeping with our objective of improving the plight of girl child, the Northern Governors Wives Forum is joining the campaign to increase awareness on menstrual issues in Northern Nigeria.”