Pad-A-Girl Initiative: Keeping the Girl Dream Alive. October 2017

For most poor and vulnerable girls in Nigeria, as signs of menstruation gets close, it serves as a constant reminder of the oncoming abuse and stigmatization they are about to face. What should be a proud period in their lives, turn out to be their most dreadful period.

Pad-A-Girl Initiative: Keeping the Girl Dream Alive. October 2017

For most poor and vulnerable girls in Nigeria, as signs of menstruation gets close, it serves as a constant reminder of the oncoming abuse and stigmatization they are about to face. What should be a proud period in their lives, turn out to be their most dreadful period.

Project Description

As part of the commitment to empower youths through Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) education, Hope Spring Water Charity Foundation initiated the Pad-A-Girl project in Nigeria to raise menstrual hygiene champions and provide a platform for poor and vulnerable girls to achieve their dreams.

Why Menstruation?

According to UNESCO, 1 out of 10 African girls miss school during their menstrual period and eventually drop out of school.

Menstruation is a dream-killer for most girls because they never get to attend schools during menstruation. On the other hand, those who cannot afford a good menstrual pad, rely on old rags and tissue papers as alternatives. There is no gainsaying the detrimental health challenges faced by the poor girls and women due to these unhygienic practices.

In Nigeria, a sanitary pad cost an average of $1.3 per pack whereas most of the families live below the poverty threshold of $1.2 per day. The high cost of sanitary pads in Nigeria has made it inaccessible for poor girls in the country. Some are faced with sexual abuse in their quest to look for money to buy sanitary pads.

What We Did

Ifako community in Lagos State, Nigeria hosted the pioneer phase of the Pad-A-Girl project. In partnership with Sankins Nigeria Limited – producers of Lady Care sanitary pads – Hope Spring Water Charity Foundation organized a menstrual hygiene management (MHM) workshop in three schools and the community general hospital.

The event kicked off at the children welfare section of Ifako General Hospital, with about 200 participants, comprising mainly nursing mothers. Dr Abiri, a sex educator, sensitized the participants on common menstrual hygiene practices and urged them to pass on the knowledge to their children, especially the girl-child.

The knowledge gap on menstrual hygiene management among school-girls is mainly attributed to lack of boldness in discussing menstruation topics.

Students of Lagos State African Church Grammar School (LAFROGRAMS) were empowered through MHM workshop. They were inspired to become change agents to end deep-rooted menstruation taboos and myths in their respective communities. About 350 participants attended the workshop and received Lady Care sanitary pads. Miss Adaeze Okonkwo, who is a student of LAFROGRAMS, emerged the menstrual hygiene champion for giving a vivid narration of hygienic practices required during menstruation.

About 100 students of Barachel Group of Schools were involved in a one-on-one discussion with medical experts from Lady Care Nigeria. In order to bridge the knowledge gap on MHM, the students were urged to freely discuss menstruation matters. At the end of the session, they unanimously agreed that there is no shame in menstruation.

At Ifako International School, the students acknowledged that they face health challenges during menstruation but are afraid or shy to discuss these challenges for fear of been stigmatized. The workshop enlightened the students on been proud and finding dignity in their natural cycle. Mrs Yemi Dabiri led the team to discuss the different kinds of health challenges that might arise during menstruation. About 250 girls participated in this workshop and sanitary pads were distributed.

Pad-A-Girl Initiative Facilitators

GBONJUBOLA BABALOLA

Gbonjubola Babalola is a medical doctor, Consultant Psychiatrist, a managerial psychologist, and is the M.D /C.E.O of Redi-Med Consulting Services, a Medical Consultancy firm.

She is a graduate of Medicine from the College of Medicine, University of Ilorin (M.B.B.S), holds a Master’s degree in Managerial Psychology (MMP) from the University of Lagos and is a Fellow of the West Africa College of Physicians (FWACP) .

She has received trainings from the prestigious Harvard University, Boston USA on Lifestyle medicine (stress and weight management, nutrition and prescribing exercise), the King’s College London (Women’s Mental health and Introduction to Qualitative Research methods) and the University of Washington on Leadership and Management in Health care.

She is the project coordinator at Centre for Mental Health Research and Initiative (CEMHRI).

Dr. Babalola is passionate about research in adolescent and women’s mental and reproductive health. She is a mental health advocate who is driven by the holistic view to health, and as such is a regular voice on various print and electronic media. She delivers health talks on adolescent and maternal reproductive and mental health. She also uses her knowledge in psychiatry and psychology to influence and maximize effectiveness and productivity in the workplace.

She volunteers with the Adorable Foundation International (an NGO fighting against drug abuse) and the Live-well Initiative.

1000 Sanitary Pads Received

In summary, about 1000 poor women and girls in Ifako community received sanitary pads, courtesy of Sankins Nigeria Limited – the producers of Lady Care sanitary pads. Subsequent workshops aim to improve and replicate the same project in other communities and states in Nigeria through the support and partnership of corporate and government bodies.

Projected Impact of the Workshop

The King of Ifako community, Oba Fatuse Abowole I, was fully in support of this project in his community and assisted with logistics necessary to ensure success of this project. In addition, Ifako Ijaye Local Government Council and Ebokpo & Adedayo Foundation supported this project through financial donations.

Projected Impact of the Workshop

 

  • Increased girls presence, confidence and concentration in school and school activities
  • Reduced incidence of rape and abuse amongst poor school girls who are in search of money to purchase menstrual hygiene materials
  • Reduced incidence of disease and death from unhygienic menstrual practices amongst girls
  • Curb the spread of taboos and myths associated with menstruation
  • Facilitate the achievement of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG #6) in Nigeria
  • Increased knowledge of menstrual hygiene management amongst the young generation who would serve as change agents in their communities.
Sustainability Plan
  • #PadAGirl initiative is a long-term project that accommodates partnerships from relevant stakeholders and renowned corporate bodies, hence our yearly proposal and target sets to seek out sponsorship that will help in the continuity of the project
  • Continuous development of existing menstrual hygiene educational materials which will be incorporated into the ‘Hope Spring WASH club’ that is established in Nigerian schools.
  • Enhanced media publicity to promote and sustain the initiative.

Menstruation is a natural biological process

Menstruation is not a TABOO

Let us work together to keep the dreams of our women and girls, alive