By Taiye Olayemi
The Rotary Club of Lagos Island (RCLI), SAKHI arm, on Wednesday distributed 400 sanitary pads to female students of two public secondary schools in the area, tasking them on maintaining good menstrual hygiene.
Mrs Ashvini Nagarkar, Project Chairperson for SAKHI arm of the Rotary Club, supervised the distribution to students of Kuramo College and Victoria Island Secondary Schools.
She said the distribution of pads and sensitisation exercise was important for the psychological, emotional and physical well being of the female students.
Nagarkar, who disclosed that the word “SAKHI” in Indian language means ‘companion’, said the target beneficiaries were the less-privileged female students in public schools who could not afford to buy sanitary pads during menstrual flow.
“This is our own little way of giving back to the society. Our major target is the public school where we can find female children who actually need this kind of help. This will continue every month because we know that these pads are needed every month to ensure that the female children do not get used to using ridiculous materials during menstrual flow,” she said.
Nagarkar said the programme was necessary to liberate most female young ones from the mythological belief about menstrual flow as many see it as sacred and should not be discussed.
Mrs Poonam Agarwal, RCLI Project Coordinator, said the gesture was the outcome of a recent survey conducted in Nigeria which indentified inadequate access to water, sanitation facilities and ignorance as factors for inadequate menstrual hygiene.
She sensitised the female students on the dangers in maintaining poor menstrual hygiene and requirements for proper menstrual hygiene.
“Many families cannot afford to pay for proper sanitary pads, and girls are forced to use old rags, leaves, feathers and other unhygienic items. Poor menstrual hygiene can lead to fungal and bacterial infections in reproductive and urinary tracts and serious disorders like kidney failure, infertility and cervical cancer.
“UNICEF estimates that one in 10 young girls in Africa miss school during their menstrual period and eventually drop out due to social compulsion. We want to discourage this habit and ensure female students appear confident to talk about that aspect of their lives and seek medical help when necessary.
“We started this in March, and we hope to continue for every month till next year March when it would be one year. By then we would have partly achieved our aim of liberating female children from all mythological beliefs of menstrual flow and instill more confidence in them to discuss it,” she said.
Mr Adebayo Dawodu, the Principal of Kuramo College, appreciated the kind gesture, adding that the exercise would impact their lives positively.
He called on medical professionals and educationists to be involved in educating students in secondary schools on areas they must take caution to be successful and outstanding in life.
“This is well appreciated and I want medical professionals, educationists, the military and all to engage in this kind of programme where students can be enlightened more on certain issues peculiar to those profession,” he said.