Focus on menstrual health

Empowering girls

09 June 2019 | Health

Erenfriede Stephanus; Erongo Regional Education Director; , . . . the lack of appropriate sanitary products can push menstruating girls out of school . . .

Swakopmund - Adolf Kaure

Menstrual Hygiene Day was commemorated for a second time in the country at the Swakopmund Secondary School hall recently.

Information to assist teachers, boys, girls and the community to understand menstrual health and hygiene issues was provided to learners.

Speaking at the occasion, the Erongo regional education director, Erenfriede Stephanus, said Namibia will focus on increased policy on and attention to menstrual hygiene management, as a critical step towards the empowerment of women.

“We will target various sectors of the population to make sure everyone is aware of the actions they must take in order to ensure females are treated with dignity. This will be done through a month-long awareness campaign on the importance of dignified menstrual health and hygiene management.”

She also emphasised the importance of focusing on menstrual health and hygiene, saying the continued silence around menstruation combined with limited access to information at home and in schools result in thousands of women and girls in Namibia having very little knowledge about what is happening to their bodies when they menstruate and how to deal with it.

“Because of long-standing social stigmas attached to menstruating bodies, many women and girls become isolated from family, friends and their communities during menstruation. They often miss school and productive work days and fall behind their male counterparts. The taboos of menstruating often also inflict indignity upon thousands of women and girls, while the lack of appropriate sanitary products can push menstruating girls out of school, temporarily and sometimes permanently.”

The campaign started at the beginning of May and culminated with a main event on 28 May.

The ministry of health and social services in collaboration with the ministry of education, arts and culture coordinated the exercise under the umbrella of the national school health task force.

It served the purpose of creating awareness and understanding on menstrual hygiene management via the provision of information to assist teachers, boys, girls and the community.

Additional objectives include the mobilisation of policy level support towards menstrual hygiene management with regards to financing and formulation of policy framework to guide menstrual hygiene programming in Namibia.

Schools and communities are informed of the importance of dignified menstrual hygiene management. They are also made aware of the associated taboos and encouraged to play an active role in discussion and making necessary provisions for the menstrual hygiene management on the day.