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The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 24 January as International Day of Education, in celebration of the role of education for peace and development.

According to the United Nations report, 258 million children and youth still do not attend school; 617 million children and adolescents cannot read and do basic math; less than 40% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa including Nigeria complete lower secondary school and some four million children and youth refugees are out of school. Their right to education is being violated and it is unacceptable.

The Problem 

Unarguably, girls suffer more than boys in terms of missing out on education. In north-eastern   Nigeria only 41 per cent of eligible girls receive primary education, 47 per cent in the north-west. Social attitudes can also impact negatively on education rates especially in northern Nigeria. In north-eastern and north-western states, 29 per cent and 35 per cent of Muslim children, respectively, attend Qur’anic education, which does not include basic education skills such as literacy and numeracy. These children are officially considered out-of-school by the Government. More so, girls remain vulnerable physically and mentally within the educational walls.

Issues arising from poor menstrual hygiene.

Menstrual hygiene management is described as the process whereby “women and adolescent girls use a clean menstrual hygiene management (MHM) material to absorb or collect blood that can be changed in privacy as often as necessary for the duration of the menstruation period, using soap and water for washing their bodies as required and having access to facilities to dispose of used menstrual management material” (UNICEF, WHO 2014).


Our Action 


Water With Development (WaterWide) in partnership with Bays Planet Foundation and Rural Eye Africa held a Menstrual Hygiene Symposium in Government Junior Secondary School, Dutse Alhaji, Abuja in commemoration of the World Education Day 2020. We mobilized 217 school-age girls to teach them Menstrual Hygiene Management and 108 have not seen their menstruation.

From the 109 girls who have seen their menstruation, over 40% have never used a sanitary pad/material or understand what it is used for. We showed them a practical example of what it looks like “Always Ultra Sanitary Pad” and also taught them how to use it and why it is very necessary for every young girl to use sanitary materials during this time of the month.

We encouraged them to take proper care of themselves by ensuring during this period of the month;

  1. They must take their bath at least thrice a day during this period of the month.
  2. Change their sanitary pads after every six hours.
  3. Wash and change their clothes regularly during this period
  4. To prevent any form of embarrassment they should learn to properly fix their sanitary pads
  5. To always drink more water and to also always move around with at least one sanitary pad whenever they notice their period is around the corner.
  6. We also encouraged them to study the dates of the menstruation.
Precious Adigwe, Bays Planet Foundation

However, we engaged the 40% who have never seen sanitary materials to enlighten us on the alternative materials they use, we identified these young girls use, wrappers, thick materials and any other materials that can hold the flow of blood. When we asked why, one student who was brave to share with us said “ my father and mother said they do not have money to buy pads, so I asked my friends and they told me they use wrappers so I started using wrapper” this is the response of one of the many girls.

Fact, over 109 young girls have no proper education on menstrual education, 40% of this population has never seen a sanitary material. One can imagine the figures from one community secondary school in Abuja against the unidentified numbers in different states in Nigeria.


The symposium identified the following of menstrual challenges for the girl-child in rural communities, they include;

  • It identified the challenges and hardships many women and girls face during their menstruation.
  • It identified the positive and innovative solutions being taken to address these challenges.
  • It calls for policy dialogue and active advocacy for the integration of menstrual hygiene management in schools.
  • It identified issues affecting the girl child as a result of inadequate menstrual hygiene.
  • It identified her inaccessibility to menstrual material as a result of the cost implication on the parent.
Students of Government Junior Secondary School, Dutse Alhaji, Abuja

Proposed Solution

Globally, many women and girls face challenges when managing their menstruation. Failure to address the menstrual hygiene needs of women and girls can have far-reaching consequences for basic hygiene, health and wellbeing, ultimately affecting progress the Sustainable Development Goal 5, Gender Equality and Dignity for all, including girls within or outside the school environment.

In partnership with Bays Planet Foundation, we will be providing 10,000 young girls, school-age girls reusable pads, educate them on menstrual hygiene management, and to ensure sustainability and sustainable society we will train these 10,000 girls to make reusable sanitary pads.

Every young girl deserves to be educated in all knowledge areas to develop her, equip her for the future and give her a proper understanding of her identity. Education goes beyond the curricular scope, it cuts across academic, social and mental education.

The girl-child deserves better!