By Obas Esiedesa
IN commemoration of the 2021 International Girl-Child day, leading consumer goods producer, Procter and Gamble (P&G) Nigeria, yesterday, called on relevant stakeholders to work towards eliminating barriers to menstrual hygiene to reduce absenteeism in schools.
The Senior Director for Africa, Global Government Relations & Public Policy P&G, Temitope Iluyemi, made this call at the launch of the second round of Always Keeping Girls in School (AKGIS) programme held in Abuja.
She said the programme is centered on the provision and distribution of Always Sanitary pads and providing puberty education to government/ public schools around the country.
Iluyemi said the programme is aimed at reducing absenteeism of girls in school as a result of poor menstrual hygiene.
“Statistics have shown that a lot of young girls tend to miss school when it is “that time of the month.” It is noted in the UNESCO report of 2015 that 1 in 10 girls miss school 5days a month in sub-Saharan Africa might even drop out.
“When you look at it really, a period is about 3-7 days, this means that if a girl does not have access to sanitary pads and sanitary facilities, that girl child will potentially miss about a week of school which is five full days a month which translates to more than 50 days of school a year which is almost two months missed from school in one academic year.
“It does not seem right that this should happen, it is intolerable, but more so it calls for public -private partnerships to ensure that our girl-students stay in school because it is the only way that they will emancipate themselves from the marginalization they currently face.
She added that the programme will also focus on educating the girls about health issues, building their self-confidence, and teaching them how to budget and save.
“This year’s AKGIS programme will reach 10,000 schoolgirls directly and over 50,000 indirectly in the peri-urban areas of the FCT and Ogun state with essential menstrual health management training and a donation of a year’s supply of sanitary pads, so that they can commit to their education and their future.
“We will also train school guidance counsellors and club heads on menstrual hygiene management to ensure wider reach, retain training knowledge and ensure sustainability.
Iluyemi added that: “As a company, P&G is a force for good in the communities we live, and work and we will continue to lead the charge in doing the right thing. Our goal is to use every opportunity and we must set change in motion.
Speaking also, the First Lady of Ogun State Bamidele Abiodun said government need to support manufactures to reduce the cost of sanitary pads to make it accessible to school girls.
She added that the provision of clean water in schools and creating an enabling environment for manufactures of sanitary pads should be top priority.
On her part, the wife of Kebbi State Governor, Zainab Bagudu said there qas an urgent need for government to collaborate with NGOs to enable girls have access to menstrual hygiene and to increase awareness of issues related to menstrual health.