Editorial: Social exclusion of adolescent girls during menstruation must end now!

Every month, 1.8 billion people across the world menstruate. Millions of these girls and women are unable to manage their menstrual cycle in a dignified and healthy way.

The onset of menstruation means a new phase – and new vulnerabilities – in the lives of adolescent females.

Yet, many adolescent girls face stigma, harassment and social exclusion during menstruation. Gender inequality, discriminatory social norms, cultural taboos, poverty and lack of basic services like toilets and sanitary products can all cause menstrual health and hygiene needs to go unmet.

This has far-reaching consequences for millions of girls. It restricts their mobility and personal choices. It affects attendance in school and participation in community life and compromises their safety. Menstruation is a natural and essential part of a woman’s reproductive health cycle. However, for many women and girls around the world, managing their menstruation can be a challenging and often taboo subject.

The Chronicle is, therefore, happy with a citinewsroom.com story about Afrika Nyornu, a Non-Governmental Organisation, which has introduced a project dubbed ‘Sew a Pad & Stay in School’ (SaPSiS) that teaches adolescent girls how to sew reusable sanitary pads with their hands, using local fabrics, threads, and needles.

According to the story, the aim is to equip the young girls with the necessary skills needed to be able to sew reusable sanitary pads for themselves and others. The reusable sanitary pads are made of materials that can absorb menstrual blood for 4 hours. Just like any other menstrual material, it has to be changed every four hours to prevent staining and discomfort.

Maloe Nartey, Founder of Afrika Nyornu NGO, explained that, the organisation had a flagship programme called ‘Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM)’ which provides comprehensive education and awareness on menstrual health to schools and churches monthly. This empowers individuals with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions and ensure their well-being.

It is important to know that menstrual hygiene is a public health concern affecting millions of women across the globe. In Ghana, a significant number of women do not have access to adequate and affordable menstrual hygiene products, particularly in rural areas. In many cases, women use dirty rags, leaves, or newspapers during their periods as they cannot afford proper sanitary pads or tampons.

The Chronicle applauds Afrika Nyornu for this great initiative to achieve menstrual health and equality for our young girls, most of whom cannot afford the GH¢20 cost of a sanitary pad. Recently, the Chief Executive Officer of Eco-me Africa, Amdiya Abdul-Latiff, revealed that some young girls in rural areas were forced to have sex with men in order to get money to buy sanitary pads. According to her, many of the girls are from deprived homes and are unable to afford decent sanitary towels for their monthly menstrual cycle.

The Chronicle also finds it very disheartening to see young girls struggle to access menstrual hygiene products. The lack of understanding and access to proper menstrual hygiene products continues to affect many Ghanaian girls and women, causing them to feel shamed and discomfort during their periods.

Government cannot do it all, and so The Chronicle is happy that Afrika Nyornu is providing education for young girls on how to sew reusable sanitary pads using local fabrics, threads and needles. This will go a long way to ease the stress of young girls who cannot afford sanitary pads. We urge others to emulate this excellent initiative.


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