The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has trained 25 women in the production of reusable sanitary pads to improve women and girls’ health in Malumfashi Local Council in Katsina State.
Job Ominyi, a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Officer, said this on the sidelines of a Training of Trainers workshop on Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) in Makurdi on Tuesday.
He said this became necessary following the outcome of research in 2015 among the three major ethnic groups and realising that there was poor knowledge, attitude and practice on MHM in parts of the country.
According to him, the outcome saw that a large number of women and girls lack information and WASH resources to support hygiene management, saying taboos and myths still played a major role.
He said that there were issues of poor information on disposal of menstrual waste and the unavailability of absorbent materials to manage menstruation, saying the pilot project in Katsina had seen that interventions could be achieved in schools and communities.
Ominyi noted that in schools, awareness creation was given to boys to understand that menstruation was a natural biological occurrence for school girls and there was the need for support and in communities, men were enlightened on how to support their women.
He said that this training had been cascaded to other women with some local governments coming to learn from the trained ones, who were further retraining more women and making businesses out of it.
He said that guidelines on hygiene promotion were being revised to include MHM, saying such interventions would go a long way to improve women and girls health.
He, however, said that challenges such as delay from the traditional rulers in supporting such interventions were due to perceived myths, religious beliefs and misconceptions.
The WASH officer said that since the Federal Government had endorsed MHM as an integral part of development, it was important to build the capacity of all duty bearers on the issue, saying this would help to champion the course to scale up.
“We must start mobilising Nigerians, men, boys, girls and women to start looking at MHM as a development issue and each one bring to the table what could be done to contribute toward promoting women and girls’ empowerment.’’
He said that UNICEF as an organisation, advocated for the rights of women and children, stressing that the commitment would remain and was already demonstrated in its policies and programmes.
“We believe in taking a look at the global improvement that is taking place and rather than reinventing the wheel, we take the bits and pieces of the issues globally and use it in our own context.
“The stakeholders have been supportive, hence the launch of the Clean Nigeria Website, we know that it won’t be long that Nigeria will be declared open defecation-free.’’
Participants at the event deliberated on gender roles, human rights to water and sanitation and what could be done to scale up WASH in communities among others.