Hope Spring Pad-A-Girl Initiative, Kano, Nigeria 2018

In northern Nigeria where the girl child are increasingly threatened to stay away from school due to incessant kidnap of school girls, Hope Spring Water Charity Foundation found it necessary to empower the girls and give them reasons to stay in school through the Pad-A-Girl Initiative. About 180 girls and academic staff of Fatimah International School were empowered and Lady Care sanitary pads were distributed to all the participants

Hope Spring Pad-A-Girl Initiative, Kano, Nigeria 2018

In northern Nigeria where the girl child are increasingly threatened to stay away from school due to incessant kidnap of school girls, Hope Spring Water Charity Foundation found it necessary to empower the girls and give them reasons to stay in school through the Pad-A-Girl Initiative. About 180 girls and academic staff of Fatimah International School were empowered and Lady Care sanitary pads were distributed to all the participants

Project Description

The city of Kano, the commercial hub of Northern Nigeria, played host to the Hope Spring Pad-A-Girl Initiative. In northern Nigeria where the girl child are increasingly threatened to stay away from school due to incessant kidnap of school girls, Hope Spring Water Charity Foundation found it necessary to empower the girls and give them reasons to stay in school.

This is the second phase of the Pad-A-Girl Initiative that commenced last year in Lagos, Nigeria. This year, we collaborated with the National Youth Corp (NYSC) members from the Charity Community Development Service (CDS) Group in Kano State, Nigeria, led by Miss Jane Agwara. The workshop was held at Fatimah International Secondary School in Tudun-Wada, Kano State, Nigeria.

The event was a success, an eye opener, insightful, great learning curve and confidence booster for participants at the workshop.

Why Menstruation and Menstrual Hygiene Management in Schools Matter?
  • Girls who get stained during menstruation as a result of poor MHM practices are often teased by classmates. The result is loss of self-confidence and absence from school
  • Without access to good menstrual materials and private toilets or washrooms for changing, girls and women may not want to go far from home
  • Social norms and myths may lead women and girls to feel that menstruation is dirty, shameful or unhealthy
  • Teachers may missschool, health workers may miss work, and girls and women may not attend school, go to the market or wait in line for supplies.
What We Did

The workshop was held on the 1st of March 2018 and comprised of girls from the junior and senior secondary section of Fatimah International School Kano. The speakers at the event were Dr. Babah Mujidat, a Medical Practitioner, and Ms. Maryam Olaitan Hassan, a public health graduate, who were also part of the volunteers. Dr. Babah educated the junior girls while Ms. Maryam educated the senior girls as the program was held in two different halls. The girls were taught about menstruation, hygiene practices during menstruation, some myths and taboos about menstruation, and a demonstration on how to use sanitary pad was illustrated. About 180 girls and most of the academic staff of Fatimah International School were in attendance and Lady Care sanitary pads were distributed to all the participants.

The students were given ample time to ask questions and talk about challenges they face while menstruating. This was discussed among the students and the volunteers. One of the major challenges the students face is that they are always shy to discuss menstrual issues. To ensure effective participation, the participants were encouraged to anonymously write down their questions on a piece of paper and submit to the facilitators. Dr. Babah explicitly emphasized, “Menstruation is not a disease, it is not a disability, it is not a condition”. The girls were made to understand that menstruation is a natural occurrence and should be the joy of every woman. Another major challenge identified in the course of the workshop was the high cost of sanitary pads; according to one of the students, in some months, she finds it difficult to afford sanitary pad therefore, she opts for tissue paper.

A one-on-one session was held where the students were given time to ask questions based on personal challenges they face during menstruation or their fears about menstruation, in the case of the younger girls that were yet to start menstruating. The volunteers did well to attend to these questions and provided as much help as they could.

Some of the girls were interviewed at the end of the event and in the course of which a girl of 13 years old who is yet to menstruate said she does not wish to ever menstruate. She was immediately referred to Dr. Babah who gave her a one-on-one discussion on why she needs to menstruate and why she should be proud of it. Two teachers were also interviewed. They were really grateful that the program was done in their school. They also suggested that the program should be extended to other schools especially the community schools in Kano State. According to one of the teachers, menstrual hygiene management is a very important topic that young girls, especially those in community schools need to be exposed to; to enable them overcome some of the challenges they face during menstruation.

Questions by the students

Some of the burning questions and menstrual myths/taboos addressed during the workshop include;

  • Why are people advised not to take sugary things while menstruating?
  • Is it normal to menstruate for 6 to 8 days?
  • Why is it that men do not menstruate?
  • Why is menstrual blood darker and thicker than normal blood?
  • What causes pimples during menstruation?
  • How will you know that you are about to menstruate?
  • Why are menses sometimes irregular?
  • Why menstrual cramps before and during menstruation?
  • What are the reasons for the coloured discharge before and after menstruation?
  • What causes menstruation?
  • Why are there changes in the number of days of menstruation?
  • Is it normal to menstruate 3 days then not menstruate for 2 days then it comes again?
  • Can someone get pregnant after one week of menstruation?
Challenges complained about by students and participants
  • The high price of the sanitary pad
  • Being uncomfortable in school while they are menstruating
  • Shyness or lack of boldness to discuss menstrual issues with peers
  • Reluctance to leave the house while menstruating
  • Unavailability of toilet facilities for good menstrual hygiene management not in place in their school. The girls complained that they do not have a specific toilet for girls only.
Impact of Workshop

The Proprietress and staff of Fatimah International School were very happy to have the workshop held in their school. They gave the volunteers their maximum support by making sure the necessary things in the school were put together for the success of the workshop. Some of the impacts of the workshop at Fatimah International School were:

  • Empowered and raised menstrual hygiene champions that will serve as change agents in their families, communities and states
  • Improved awareness that menstruation is neither a disease nor a taboo, rather a blessing to womanhood
  • Increased awareness of the importance of good hygienic practice while menstruating
  • The early teenage girls who are yet to start menstruating were equipped with the information they need to be prepared for their first menstruation day.
  • The culture of silence was broken as the student were able to open up and discuss about menstruation
  • The girls were taught to rise above myths and stigmas attached to menstruation and be proud of their menstrual cycle
  • One of the teachers confessed that she never knew the right way to use sanitary pad until the demonstration was made by the speaker.
Volunteers

  • Agwara, Jane Ngozi
  • Babah, Mujidat
  • Maryam Olaitan Hassan
  • Abdumalik, Binta Fatimah
  • Henry Odoemelem
  • Fadilat Aliu
  • Favour Uzoma
  • Fauziyya Muhammad Bello
  • Rukayya Muhammad Aminu
  • Mary Ayomide Olukorede
  • Aka Nurudeen Tunde
Bio of Speakers and Lead Volunteer

Ms. Jane Ngozi Agwara – Lead Volunteer

 

Jane Ngozi Agwara is a First Class Graduate of Chemical Engineering from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria. Jane is an inspirational and dedicated leader who is passionate about humanitarian services and helping the poor. She is also passionate about empowering youths, especially the girl child. She is presently a National Youth Corp Member working at the Chemical and Petroleum Engineering department of Bayero University, kano, Nigeria.

 

 

Dr. Babah Mujidat

 

Dr. Babah Mujidat is a medical practitioner and National Youth Corp member currently working with the Nigerian Custom Service Medical Centre, kano State, Nigeria. She is passionate about humanitarian services and presently anchors a medical talk show on local radio, titled; Medhelp Doctors. She has worked for several humanitarian causes, some of which include serving as volunteer for the “Breast Cancer Awareness Program” organized by the Naval Officers Wives Association (NOWA) in Lagos State, Nigeria and also providing Free Counselling and Testing at the 2016 World Aids Day Program in Lagos State, Nigeria.   

 

 

 

Ms. Maryam Olaitan Hassan

 

Maryam Olaitan Hassan is a Public Health Graduate from Bayero University, Kano (BUK) and a National Youth Corp member currently working at Murtala Mohammed Specialist Hospital, Kano. She is passionate about youth empowerment and educating young girls.