How Skills Africa Network Is Addressing Menstrual Hygiene Needs Of Underprivileged IDPs

How Skills Africa Network Is Addressing Menstrual Hygiene Needs Of Underprivileged Idps, Every Girl Africa

About once a month, females who have undergone puberty will experience menstrual bleeding in the absence of pregnancy. Menstruation is one vital process of a woman’s body that deserves utmost caution and self-care. This makes it necessary for women to require basic needs to manage their menstrual hygiene monthly. Menstruation in itself is not dirty as myths claimed, although the process must be hygienic. Menstrual hygiene is a fundamental human right.

Globally women have developed strategies to handle menstrual hygiene. These strategies vary due to personal preferences, availability of resources, economic status, cultural traditions and beliefs, education status, and knowledge about menstruation. The safe and hygienic means of managing menstrual hygiene involve using reusable pads, sanitary pads, tampons, and menstrual cups. 

Woman smiling with a pack of sanitary pad on her head. Photocredit/Skills Africa Network

Unfortunately, the products are expensive because they are categorized as non-essential products and are heavily taxed. This leads to unhygienic practices like using plastic bags, cotton balls, socks, rags, leaves, cow dungs, and clay. Practices related to menstrual hygiene are of significant health concern for women. Poor menstrual hygiene practices lead to risks of reproductive tract infections, toxic shock syndrome, and other vaginal diseases.

Period Poverty: The inability to afford primary menstrual supplies, such as pads and disposable menstrual products is known as Period poverty. According to reports, 1 in 4 women in their menstruating years suffer Period poverty. The real “period pains” comes from the discrimination and shaming attached to it and the inability to access proper hygiene or sanitary materials.

Durumi IDP Camp outreach. Photocredit/ Skills Africa Network

According to the United Nations Women online article, 12.8% of women and girls worldwide live in abject poverty. The cost of these menstrual products and added taxes leave many without ways to manage their periods. In Nigeria, a pack of sanitary pads costs an average of between Two Hundred and Fifty Naira to One Thousand Naira (N250.00 to N1000.00) that’s about $2.76 or less, even as an estimated 44 percent of Nigeria’s populations (87 million people) live in extreme poverty, earning less than $1.90 per day.

Homelessness + Period: Internally displaced persons (IDPs) are groups of persons who have to flee their homes to avoid the effects of armed conflict, violence, violations of human rights, natural or human-made disasters (Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, 1998). IDPs are entitled to enjoy the same rights and freedoms under international and national laws as do other people in their country. 

Women at Durumi IDP Camp. Photocredit/Skills Africa Network

Over 2.7 million are internally displaced persons in Nigeria, the majority are women and young children. According to Kofi Annan, Former UN Secretary-General “Internal displacement is the great tragedy of our time. The internally displaced people are among the most vulnerable of the human family.” These families have no source of livelihood, and struggle daily for food. They depend on humanitarian relief brought to the settlements and menial jobs they could get. Women in the IDPs face an added crisis every month when they get their menses.

They have to consider choosing between getting food and buying sanitary supplies for their menses. Mostly, these women have no resources to feed their families, let alone buy menstrual supplies. Menstruation is compulsory for every female adult, rich or poor. If women with good income still feel the pinch, how about much more economically challenged internally displaced women?

End Period Poverty (EPP) Program

SKILLS NETWORK AFRICA is a non-governmental organization targeted at helping underserved children and youth access quality education with good health through social interventions and impact-driven programs thereby aligning to sustainable development goal 3, 4, 5, and 10; good health and wellbeing, quality education, gender equality, and reduced inequality. There are two projects running concurrently: Shoes For Schools Program and End Period Poverty Program.

A young lady at Sabokuchingoro IDP camp smiling after receiving a pad. Photocredit/ Skills Africa Network

END PERIOD POVERTY PROGRAM is one of the organization’s initiatives scheduled in a pandemic, targeting underprivileged adolescent girls and women living in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps across Nigeria, with its launch in Abuja. 

The goal of this program is to alleviate period poverty among underprivileged adolescent girls and women, hence, the supply of sanitary materials like pads, soaps, and towels. The motivation behind this project is that most adolescent girls and women living in marginalized communities are vulnerable to deadly diseases and in most cases lose their lives from the use of harmful alternatives (papers, polythene, sacks, rags, etc.) during their monthly menstrual cycle. 

Skills Africa Network believe that through their work and advocacy, they can make sanitary pads free, tax-exempted or at most affordable to all underprivileged communities in Nigeria because menstrual hygiene should be a priority and a fundamental human right

Sadly, the pandemic has crippled the means of livelihood for vulnerable people making it difficult to afford sanitary towels every month.

So far, Skills Africa Network have reached three IDP communities with an average of 500 residents each and an average of 300 adolescent girls and women altogether benefited from the program in the last three months (May – July, 2020). The IDPs are located in the FCT at Durumi, Karamajiji, and Sabo-kunchigoro. 

This project has been majorly funded by individual donations of friends, families, colleagues and acquaintances. Likewise, Skills Africa Network currently partners with some organizations which include Every Girl Africa, YALI Abuja, IBI Foundation, Hafdala Corporate Limited, SDGs Thursday, BCDA, and they still anticipate corporate donations and partnerships with private, financial and philanthropic organizations or institutions. Skills Africa Network believe that more people can be reached with the right resources. However, the goal is to address the menstrual hygiene needs of 1 million underprivileged IDPs. 

Alongside mass distribution or supplies of sanitary pads, Skills Africa Network educates these girls and women on healthy lifestyle, personal hygiene, and sexual reproductive system. This is done by their medical expert team.

All their activities can be viewed on our social media at  instagram.com/skillsafricafacebook.com/skillsafricanet.

For sponsorship and partnership, contact here: skillsafricanetworkng@gmail.com 

Join Skills Africa Network to give underprivileged adolescent girls and women the courage to manage their period with dignity. Support this project by donating a minimum of NGN 1,000 (One Thousand Naira Naira) or $3 (Three US. Dollars) to Skills Africa Network Zenith Bank Account: 1016745592.

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