…Parents Urged to educate Female Children about Menses – By: WASH R&E “Media” Network – Each year May 28 is celebrated the World Over as Menstrual Hygiene Day. The Day was initiated by the German-based NGO WASH Unitedin 2014.
The month of May was chosen because usually women have five days of periods and the date symbolizes the average duration of the monthly cycle.
MenstrualHygiene Day is aimed at raising awareness among girls and women about their bodies, which undergo important changes during the onset of puberty and at different stages of their lives.
The Day also makes efforts to target some myth related to female bodies.
In observance of the Day, the Government of Liberia and some Development Partners including the Liberia WASH Consortium and UNICEF held an elaborate program at the SIMS Public School in Caldwell outside Monrovia.
The celebration of the Day at the weekend brought together several public and private schoolstogether, with the aim of discussing issues relating to menstrual hygiene.
The observance of Day for the first time in Liberia is intended to break the silence and build awareness about the fundamental role that good menstrual hygiene management plays in enabling women and girls to reach their full potentials.
The celebration in Liberia also focused on creating a National Platform for partners across all sectors to engage in action, advocacy and knowledge sharing around Menstrual Hygiene Management.
The commemoration also looked at engaging in policy dialogue and active advocacy for the integration of menstrual hygiene management into global, national and local policies programs.
Female students attending the program were taught some of the basics when it comes to menstrual hygiene.
Speaking to WASH Reporters & Editors Network of Liberia, the Directress of School Health Division at the Education Ministry said the celebration of the Day is the first of its kind in Liberia.
Mrs. Olivia Kendriz noted that the Day provided the Platform for female students to share their experiences as it relates to menstruation.
Mrs. Kendriz asserted that the experiences shared by the girls during the program was very much appalling.
The Directress of School Health Division however called on parents to share basic information on the issue of menstruation and that it should not been seen as a taboo.
For her part, the acting Coordinator of the Liberia WASH Consortium, Elizabeth Churchill said celebrating the Day will provide the space for Liberian women and girls to share their knowledge and challenges in line with menstruation.
Acting Coordinator Churchill said the Platform created by celebrating the day in Liberia will give her organization an insight to some of the problems faced by school going girls.
She indicated that with the revelation from these school girls, the Consortium will take some affirmative actions that would help mitigate the problem.
Also speaking to the WASH Media, UNICEF Education Specialist, Sonia Sudeko disclosed that it all started one year ago when the Liberian Leader said WASH in Schools(WINS) was one of her key priorities.
She said as part of the President’s dream, UNICEF and other partners put in place a protocol for WASH in schools.
The UNICEF Education Specialist said the need for schools to have WASH facilities is very critical to solving the issues surrounding menstrual hygiene in schools.
Madam Sudeko revealed that an assessment conducted by UNICEF at over 5,000 schools across the country, only 37% percent of the schools have menstrual hygiene compliance.
Meanwhile the Ministry of Education, UNICEF and the Liberia WASH Consortium are recommending that there should be an increase number of female teachers, increase schools with WASH facilities to improve hygiene practices, provide access to clean water and soap within a place that provides an adequate level of privacy for washing stains from clothes and reusable materials.
For their part, girls attending the program informed facilitators that most often they have to stay out of school when they are experiencing their cycle because their schools lack basic WASH facilities.
The female students also disclosed that the issue of menstruation is never discussed with them by their parents or guardians.
The girls however commended the Government of Liberia and partners for celebrating the Day.
According to them, observing the Day had given a broader insight to them about issues of Menstrual Hygiene Management.
The recommendations further called for the provision of basic training to school staff, both males and females on the importance of Menstrual Hygiene Management, making hygiene education including Menstrual Hygiene Management a key component of general education amongst others.
The activities marking the day was supported by the Liberia WASH consortium, UNICEF, Irish Aid, Ministry of Education and National WASH Promotion Committee.