As part of events to mark the 2021 International Day for the Girl Child, the Days for Girls Ghana (DfG), a not-for-profit organization has empowered over 500 school girls’ with comprehensive knowledge on menstrual hygiene to help them effectively manage their menstruation.
The girls numbering more than five hundred who are students of the Odukponkpehe basic school located at Kasoa in the Central Region of Ghana were also provided with holistic sexual and reproductive education to enhance their capacities on how exactly the sexual and reproductive system of a human being works.
The colorful ceremony which was held at the forecourt of the school’s premise equally witnessed the Days for Girls Ghana donated one hundred fifty (150) of its free flagship reusable menstrual product, the DFG reusable kit to help the girls effectively manage their menstruation.
The DFG reusable kits are arguably the best reusable pad worldwide, lasting up to three years of continuous usage.
Addressing the participants at the event, the Country Director of Days for Girls Ghana, Sandra Boakye observed the girl child education is saddled with many barriers including period poverty, thus lack of access to menstrual materials (pads) which mainly results in high absenteeism and school drop out for the girl child.
She added that the dropout rate for girls at the lower level is low but it increases as they progress to the higher levels of education as a result of menarche for girls.
Mad. Boakye also hinted that special needs of girls such as money to buy sanitary pads have been cited as two of the reasons for high drop-out rates for the girl-child at both upper primary and junior high school level.
“Girls in school lose out on instructional hours during school days during their menstrual period as a result of their inability to afford modern means of protection such as the sanitary pads”
“Consequently, they instead use unclean rags, cloth, newspaper, leaves or cotton wool, which sometimes cause infections and foul smell and stigmatization hence, their reluctance to go into public whilst they are menstruating”.
Menstrual hygiene management is a challenge faced by many girls and women. It is not just a Ghanaian problem but a global phenomenon. In Ghana, as a result of intra-family priorities and unfavorable educational policies, absenteeism and retention of girls in school is rife. It is estimated that more than 20% of girls drop out of basic school yearly in Ghana as a result of intra-family priorities and unfavorable educational policies. Research in Ghana shows up to 95% miss school days as a result of menstruation and approximately 60-90 percent of girls feel shameful about menstruation. Again 69% of girls demonstrate poor knowledge of menstrual hygiene practices and 2 out of 5 adolescent girls feel excluded from education, social activities and work while they are menstruating. (WaterAid Ghana. (2012), Boakye-Yiadom et al, 2018)
Reflecting on the above statistics, Mad. Sandra Boakye posited that it warranted her outfit to partner the Ghana Education Service (GES) to commemorate this year’s International Day for the Girl Child with education on Menstrual Health Hygiene Management and sanitary towel distribution among the school girls.
While urging all and sundry to vigorously utilize their voices to advocate for the right of the girl child, she quickly appealed to all partners, parents, teachers and decision makers to support menstrual health in order to advance girl child education in Ghana.
The International Day of the Girl Child is an annual and internationally recognized observance on October 11 that empowers girls and amplifies their voices. The theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Digital generation, Our generation’.
Touching on the theme of this year’s celebration, Mad. Sandra Boakye averred that Days for Girls Ghana is embracing the power of digital technology to raise awareness about menstrual health management, stigma, the sanctions and the taboos imposed on women and girls.
“Currently we are aggressively using social media to create awareness on MHM. This event as you can see is being streamed live on all social media handles so we are using technology to create awareness on the stigma and the sanctions associated with menstruation for women and girls and all challenges that girls go through that is eventually affecting the girl child education”.
For her part, the assistant headmistress of the Odukponkpehe Basic School (A), Ernestina Serwaa Darkwa encouraged the girls to always ensure good personal hygiene at all times especially during time of menstruation.
She also charged them not to bow down to any form of intimidation or harassment likely to come from anyone during their time of menstruation in order not to limit their self-esteem.
The event was graced by some crème-de la crème of the society and dignitaries alike including a resource person from the Ghana Education Service and a queen mother of the area who equally took turn to address the girls and above all added their voices to calls for stakeholders to support the protection of the rights of the girl child, raise awareness about menstrual hygiene education, advocate for the girl child education and solicit for government support to remove the tax on menstrual hygiene products in the country for the benefit of our girls and women.
There was a scintillating drama performance by the school children which highlighted the stigma and sanctions surrounding menstruation and equally proffered a solution to end the problem.
Days for Girls Ghana is a duly registered nonprofit organization focused on shattering the stigma and limitation associated with menstruation for improved health, education and livelihoods. The organization has been involved in several projects tackling the problems faced by women and girls around the world by providing sustainable and cost efficient solutions to those challenges.