Students of Government Girls Secondary School (GGSS) in Minna, Niger State have appealed to the Nigerian government to make available for them free sanitary pads.
Lamenting their inability to buy pads during their monthly circle, the girls begged both the federal and state governments to encourage them with free pads to replace the use of clothes by some of them.
”There are times I have to trek to school just not to miss school, and when I ask for money for pads from my parents, they will say there is no money. So often, I have no choice but to use clothes when the monthly cycle comes,” said Hansia Abu, a JSS 3 student of the school who spoke with newsmen.
The girls made their demands known during the ‘Pad A Girl’ Campaign organized by Media Mentors Network in collaboration with Succeeding Against All Odds and Niger State chapter of the Network of Reproductive Health Journalists of Nigeria (NRHJN) to commemorate the World Menstrual Hygiene Day.
Abu while narrating her ordeal with menstruation, told reporters that pads are now sold from N300 and above but that most often uses clothes since they do not have enough money to buy pads.
“It will make a lot of impacts if these pads are made free of charge for us. I heard that some family planning drugs are often given free, why can’t sanitary pads be given free? I know the government can help us in this aspect. It will boost our morale and academic performance,” the young girl added.
Another student, Eucheria Monday, a JSS 3 student stated that she often avoid school during her menstrual flow due to the inability to buy a pad to prevent stain which can be very embarrassing.
She said: “As I am here, I started my period last year November and I have not used sanitary pads for up to two times I have menstruated. That is why I usually stay at home when I am seeing my menstruation. If there is a place we can collect free pads monthly, I will be very happy.”
Sensitizing the students on menstrual hygiene, the Executive Director, Kings Foundation, Aisha Wakaso told the students that several factors influence difficult experiences with menstruation which include inadequate facilities, lack of access to sanitary pads, menstrual pain and inadequate knowledge about the menstrual cycle.
On her part, the Executive Director, Succeeding Against All Odds, Dr Valda Martins, urged the students to confide in their parents or anyone they have confidence in whenever they face problem regarding menstrual issues, insisting on the need for proper disposal of their sanitary pads and tissues.
The Niger State Coordinator of the Network of Reproductive Health Journalists of Nigeria, Hajiya Habiba Alabura Dauda said, ”when the girls get these sanitary pads without paying for it, it will take away a lot of stress and thinking of how to address the issue of getting stained during the monthly menstrual flow. We know that government can do this. Sanitary pads can be added to other reproductive health products that are already being given free to the populace. These girls need this a lot because a lot of them cannot afford to get these sanitary pads monthly.”
Also, speaking, the Convener of the Pad A Girl Campaign, Justina Asishana explained that the campaign was initiated to create awareness about menstrual hygiene and bring the attention of the government regarding the period of puberty, especially among female student.
She stated that the target of the campaign was to reach out to 1000 female students with free sanitary pads, but due to a dearth in resources, only 500 sanitary pads were given out, adding that donations were gotten from well-meaning individuals to support the campaign.