In the course of our work since 2017, under A Well-Informed Adolescent Initiative -formerly known as Adolescent Reproductive Health and Rights Initiative (ARHRI)- this youth focus, youth led organization provides adequate comprehensive sexuality education and integrated sexual reproductive health services to young people.
We achieve this through the use of safe space provision, social media, digital platforms and multi-sectorial programs that link health to education, recreational or skills acquisition, also youth club activities, school campaign, advocacy and peer health education.
We realized that most of the girls and women we inter-phased with lack access to menstrual aids, sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, who survived their period with socks, tissue, rags etc. And this is why we started PEGI in 2019; to us at PEGI it is important that every woman and girls have resources they need to manage her period with dignity and that no woman or girl should be held back because of her period.
In one of our outreaches in Odukpani, a rural community in Cross River, we were walking out of the school when I saw three girls stained on their buttock and they were trying to clean it using water. I approached them to ask why they waited till they got stained, they explained they had no money to buy sanitary pads so they what they used wasn’t absorbing their blood flow.
This Story is what cut across all region of the country; Nigeria is one of the countries that place a heavy tax on menstrual products. A pack of sanitary pads cost an average of $1.30, even as an estimated 44% of Nigeria’s population (87 Million people) lives in extreme poverty earning less than $1.90 per day. Likewise in Cameroon, as noted by Sommer et al. (2016b) women and girls may delay urination and defecation but it is not possible to stop menstrual flow. The lack of affordable sanitary products also exacerbates anxiety and stress during menstruation and increases their vulnerability. Additionally, In Kenya it has been reported that girls are forced to have sex in exchange for sanitary products [New Exclusive Research by UNICEF (Oppenheim, 2018)].
Period Poverty is not far-fetched from West Africa to East Africa, and other region of the continent more than 800 million women and girls menstruate worldwide each day yet 500 million of those women have no access to sanitary pads. 3.4% of women in African prison are forced to go through their monthly periods without sanitary wears, women and girls with special needs and disabilities disproportionately do not have access to affordable pads, likewise those in conflict affected areas like North East Nigeria or in aftermath of natural disaster also makes it more difficult for women and girls to access sanitary products to manage their period. The lack of affordable sanitary products has resultant effect on women and girls health, economic, power dynamics in relationship and the height of it all it leads to increase in gender inequality.
In the fight against period poverty, A Well-Informed Adolescent Initiative works to ensure availability and provision of Organic fiber pads, Reusable pads, Non-synthetic fiber pads and Reusable sanitary cups to vulnerable women and girls.