Our Girls Matter: Menstrual Hygiene Management in
Nigeria, Education and Male Participation.
Deborah Dauda for Leading Everyone to Participate in Africa (LEPA)
Why Does it Matter? Why Now?
Definition of Key Terms
Menstrual Hygiene Management in Nigeria
Absenteeism related to menstruation
Possible Solutions- Building Allies
The role of men/fathers
Current project –LEPA (Leading Everyone to Participate in Africa)- MHM
Curriculum for Adolescent girls in Nigeria.
Women and adolescents are using a clean, and readily available menstrual
management material ( i.e. reusable/disposable pads, menstrual cups, and
tampons) to absorb or collect blood for the entire duration of their cycle.
Ensuring adequate water, cleaning and washing materials (soap, water,
etc..)are available and accessible, without risk.
Private spaces for managing menstrual flows, safely, hygienically and with
dignity, in the home and in public spaces are available, and without risks.
+Why Does it Matter?
On any day 300 million women and girls worldwide will
be menstruating (George, 2013).
In Nigeria, between 31% and 56 % of girls use toilet
tissue paper as an absorbent (Torondel, 2013).
In Ethiopia, 90% of the schools lack water supply,
separate toilet for boys and girls and the existing toilets
lack privacy (Tsegaye, et.al, 2011).
In Malawi menstruating girls had to bathe separately to
parents and stop talking to boys ( Prestwich, 2013)
Menstrual hygiene management is a human rights issue but
has been put on the backburner for far too long, and
excluded in programming related to SRHR of young people.
As Gloria Steinem eloquently puts it:
“If men could menstruate...menstruation would be an enviable,
boast-worthy,masculine event: Men would brag about how long
and how much.Boys would mark the onset of menses,that
longed-for proof of manhood,with religious ritual and stage
parties.Congress would fund a National Institute of
Dysmenorrhea to help stamp out monthly discomforts.Sanitary
supplies would be federally funded and free.”
Breaking Down Taboos
Source: Celebrating Womanhood: How Better Menstrual Hygiene Management is the
Path to Better Health, Dignity and Business by Rose George for WSSCRC
Men:What Activities DoYou Feel
Women Should Abstain from While
Women:What Would/Wouldn't You
Do While Menstruating?
What About in Nigeria’s Context??
Compulsory Abstinence:“Our husbands don’t look at us...They
only give us five days free from sex” (House et.al, 2012)
Religious Restriction:The Celestial Churches in Nigeria believe a
woman/girl should not touch any juju (charm) during
menstruation or it will become ineffective (House et.al, 2012)
Exclusion/Alienation: Menstruating women and girls are forced
into seclusion, suffer reduced mobility and dietary restrictions,
and can be prevented, through cultural norms, from participating
in daily activities.
More Examples from Audience!
How Does Taboo/Stigma Affect
MHM Practices ?
The culture of silence surrounding Mensuration increases the
vulnerability of girls, and can lead to unhygienic menstrual
practice, isolation, low self-esteem, and violence/abuse.
A Study conducted by water Aid, found that 95% of girls in
rural Ghana felt embarrassed during their last period and
90% said they felt ashamed (Betteridge, 2013)
In Malawi, 82% did not know about menstruation before the
onset of menarche and Girls were also excluded from water
sources during menstruation and prohibited from cooking or
bathing in some communities (Betteridge, 2013)
Meanwhile, In Nigeria……
Survey of 495 post menarche Nigerian schoolgirls discovered that 44.8% of
girls had no preparation for menarche.
Only 8.8% of the girls had received training from aid workers or teachers.
More than half of the girls surveyed described the experience of
menarche as frightful or confusing.
In Nigeria, the national toilet-to-pupil ratio is one latrine to 292 students.
And even the ones available are run-down and lack privacy and washing
Source:WaterAid.org, Anibue, 2009
School Absenteeism and
“Menstrual hygiene has always been shrouded
in secrecy for me and I believe it is fair to say that I speak for
most of the world’s male population.It had never occurred to me
that women and girls 'never wear white' when they have their
period.As it will never have occurred to the thousands and
thousands of headmasters of schools over the world that burden
girls with light colored uniform dresses.” -Rolf Luyendijk,
What Issues/Concerns Might Prevent
a Girl from Attending School While on
Source: Keep Girls in School Period
+Why Are Men/fathers Critical In Reducing
Stigma and Promoting Positive MHM?
As Head of Household, decision making power- Money for sanitary
supplies- thus preventing the exposure of young girls to risk involving the
exchange of sex for money
Can be empowering to young girls- Having fathers, involved and
understanding of their growth/development.
Reduces the burden on women/mothers.
Men/fathers can sensitize boys and involve them in debunking myths and
reducing stigma associated with menstruation.
Could have intergenerational benefits, mitigate child marriage- i.e. If
fathers understands that menstruation doesn’t mean daughter is
physiologically prepared for motherhood.
AUDIENCE, MORE EXAMPLES PLEASE !!!!
+Why Do Some Men Cringe/
Source: House et.al, 2012
Being Politically Correct (The
Power in Words)…..
[Menstruation] is not a sexy issue. Politicians don't like it.
Women too have a certain hesitation.We need to get old
women on board,and old men.
In Sierra Leone, [a] girl wanted to use tampons so she could
go swimming,her grandmother said she wouldn't have
tampons in her house.”
Varina Tjon A Ten, former Dutch parliamentarian,The Hague University
Audience Get Up and Get the Following
Words out of your system :
+ WillYou Take The Pledge and Help
Break the Silence?
Pledge for Girls/Women and Boys/Men:
I will break the silence on menstruation
I will not feel shy; I will take pride
I will spread the word outside and inside the
Source:Water Supply Sanitation and Collaborative Council (WSSCC)
+ Current Project
LEPA (Leading Everyone to Participate in Africa)
Mission:To empower, inspire, mentor and build the
leadership capacity of African and Diasporan
Three overarching Plan-of-Action:
1. The realization of the rights of girls,
2. The active participation of African youths in all
levels of civil society,
3. And the building of stronger relationships
between Africans in the Diaspora and those on
The development of a MHM curriculum for Nigerian School girls is
part of the First Plan of Action (The Realization of the Rights of
Needs Assessment Survey is under revision
Mentorship Support from The Red Elephant Foundation (India)
Grants!! Funding, etc..
Aniebue,U. U., Aniebue,P. N., & Nwankwo,T. O. (2009). The Impact of Pre-Menarcheal Training on Menstrual
Practices and Hygiene of Nigerian School Girls. Pan African Medical Journal ,2 (9), 2-9.
Betteridge, A. (2013). WhyWe Need to Talk About Periods: Menstrual Hygiene Management in Development
Practice. The Development Policy Center, DevPolicy Blog. Development Policy Center.
George, R. (2013). CelebratingWomanhood:Menstrual Hygiene Management . Water Supply & Sanitation
Collaborative Council (WSSCC). Geneva:Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC).
Georgina, P. (2013). An Exploratory Study into Menstrual Hygiene Management Amongst Rural,Primary
Schoolgirls in Uganda:What Implications does Menstrual Related Absenteeism have for Future Interventions? .
House,S., Mahon,T., & Cavill, S. (2012). Menstrual Hygiene Matters A Resource for Improving Menstrual
Hygiene Around theWorld. WaterAid.org.WaterAid.
Onyilo, G., Onabolu, B., Mohammed, F., & Gege, A. The Nigerian Girls Education Project:Giving The Girl
Sumpter, C., & Torondel, B. (2013). A Systematic Review of the Health and Social Effects of Menstrual
Hygiene Management . PLoS ONE ,8 (4), 1-15.
Tsegaye,Z.,Tamiru, S., Kitaba, A., & Getachew, F. (2011). Towards a Local Solution for Menstrual Hygiene
Management in Schools.WASH. SNV Netherlands Development Organisation .