The Federal Government in partnership with other stakeholders has pledged to remove all barriers and misconceptions that hinder self-esteem, dignity and safety of women and girls while menstruating.
This was the thrust at a one-day Validation Meeting for Institutionalising of a Menstrual Hygiene Health Management (MHHM) National Action Plan for Nigeria in Abuja on Friday.
The Deputy Director, Child Development, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, Mrs. Christiana Oliko, said this move was necessary to reduce the misconceptions and practices surrounding menstruation.
She noted that with the onset of menstruation came restrictions, rules, confinement and changed expectations that affect the lives of girls and women negatively.
“While providing facilities for hygienic management of menstruation is critical, more is required.
“Addressing the socio-cultural dimensions that portray menstruation with disgust, shame and silence is urgently indicated to promote self-esteem, dignity and safety of the girls and women,” she said.
According to her, actions and enabling environment to eliminate the stigma, teasing, discrimination and denial of socio-economic opportunities have to be tailored to cover the interests of in and out of schoolgirls.
She added that illiterates and semi-literate women as well as female teachers and workers within urban and rural settings must not be left behind.
Oliko said a Technical Working Group (TWG) was constituted to provide technical support to this process with a Terms of Reference (ToR) for effective development and institutionalisation processes.
She noted that the meeting was an avenue to validate the draft TWG TOR and ensure it had a comprehensive, strong and reliable body of evidence including stakeholder analysis that reflected the various socio-cultural and economic realities.
She added that it was necessary that all planning and review of plans supported the institutionalisation of MHHM in Nigeria.
The National Coordinator, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), Dr Elizabeth Jeiyol, stressed the collaborative nature of the technical support to the Ministry of Women Affairs.
While appreciating the minister, Pauline Tallen, for the strong political will and commitment toward the development and institutionalisation of the National Action Plan on MHHM, she said such commitment was necessary to reverse misconceptions about menstruation.
Jeiyol called on all stakeholders to increase investment in programmes and interventions toward addressing MHHM and to ensure that women and girls practiced menstruation in dignity and were able to attain their full potentials.
“I commend the TWG members for their strong commitment that has produced the milestones so far recorded in the process.
“The action plan will help to holistically support the Women Affairs Ministry to address MHHM as an important thematic component of the Sustainable Development Goals 6,” she said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Technical Working Group on MHHM was inaugurated on May 28, 2019, to provide directions in the design and implementation of strategic programmes for scaling up response for MHHM in Nigeria.
With funding support from WSSCC Nigeria, other partners included United Purpose, UNICEF, Plan International and the Society for Water and Sanitation.