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Plastics for pads: NGO takes menstrual hygiene campaign to Bwari school girls

The WonderWoman Nigeria, an NGO working in the area of community development, gender empowerment and environmental sanitation, Thursday, inaugurated the ‘Plastics for Pads’ initiative at the Federal Government Girls College (FGGC) Bwari, distributing reusable sanitary pads to about 170 students in the process.

The initiative is aimed at ensuring every girl in Nigeria experiences menstruation with dignity as plastics collected at designated points will be sold, with the help of partners, for the purchase of reusable sanitary pads, soaps and other menstruation items.

Speaking at the sensitization outreach at FGGC Bwari, the Vice President of WonderWoman Nigeria, Anne Dirkling, said that period poverty is affecting many women, especially school girls, as they can hardly afford to buy menstrual pads and other sanitary products.

She said period poverty prompted the need for the NGO to work with organizations like the French embassy, Population Services International (PSI) Nigeria and other partners to provide reusable sanitary pads for the school girls, in exchange for plastics.

She said: “Period poverty is affecting many women, especially young girls and students. We decided to bring this sensitization outreach to the FGGC Bwari because it is an all girls school and they will feel comfortable to discuss with us, tell us things and ask questions without feeling ashamed or bullied like if it were in a mixed school.

“We are thrilled to launch a new plastic waste collection point, a significant step towards reducing waste and supporting menstrual health for girls in need. As we come together, we acknowledge the struggles of millions of girls and women in Nigeria who face period poverty, stigma and shame. We recognise the impact of improper plastic disposal on our environment and the need for collective action.

“Through this event, we aim to educate, empower and inspire our communities to take action for a #periodfriendlyworld. We always endeavour to use every opportunity to share knowledge, resources and experiences to promote menstrual health, sustainability and social change.”

She added: “The whole initiative is called plastics for the pads in partnership with four area councils in Abuja and PSI Nigeria. It is an outreach to commemorate the World Menstrual Hygiene Day, thanks to the support of the French embassy.

“The French Embassy in Nigeria reached out to us and wanted to celebrate the day that is always commemorated on May 28th, but because we already had other engagements, we pushed the date to June 6.

“The beneficiaries are close to 170. The beneficiaries were initially 150 students, thanks to the French Embassy support, then we also gave 19 additional menstrual hygiene kits to other students as part of the proceeds from the recycling container that we have placed at GIZ Nigeria & ECOWAS country office.

“We cut the ribbon on the container to officially unveil the project, then sensitized the students on menstrual hygiene and period/ puberty talks and then distributed the kits. We also donated a letter box to the students so that they can feel free to drop letters for us to answer their questions on menstrual hygiene. The box will be placed in their library or any other convenient place for the girls to express themselves anonymously.

“We will collect the box biweekly or monthly and address the issues raised by the girls as many of them may not be comfortable speaking in the public, hence they can write to us anonymously. Answering their questions will help clear their doubts so that they don’t learn the wrong things from their peers who may not know any better.

“Meanwhile, with the help of partners, we will sell the plastics collected and then buy reusable sanitary pads for distribution to the girls. We will ensure new set of girls benefit the next time. We have the container placed in different strategic parts of Bwari, including Dutse Alhaji market. So, the girls can also teach their relatives on how to properly dispose plastic products for recycling and a second life.”

Also speaking, the Vice Principal (Admin), Mr Hussein Atai Andrew, who represented the Director – Principal of FGGC Bwari, Ibrahim, Gladys Assibi, said that the initiative by WonderWoman Nigeria is a welcomed one as the school is in the habit of educating the students on the need for personal and environmental hygiene.

“I’m sincerely very happy with what happened here today. The girls are happy as the outreach helped to drive home what we have been teaching the students regarding personal and environmental hygiene. I hope this is not the end as we look forward to more partnership with WonderWoman Nigeria,” he said.

Blueprint reports that girls like Efeoghene Blessing (SS2A, Art class), Ugwuanyi Kosisochukwu (a 16 year old girl in SS 2 class), among others, got presents for answering questions based on lectures on menstrual hygiene.

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