Women and girls face numerous challenges with regard to their sexual and reproductive health as well as accessing services. Although there are efforts to improve educational opportunities for girls, one of the challenges they face is menstrual hygiene management and other pubertal changes.
Many studies have documented the impact of menstruation on the education of girls, with challenges of menstrual hygiene management and acquisition of sanitary towels affecting girls’ school attendance. It is reported that some girls stayed away from school for up to five days in a month during their menstrual period. This setback leads many to fully withdraw from school altogether.
Creating a healthier, safer, and more equitable world in which women and girls are not stigmatized, excluded, or discriminated against merely because they menstruate is a non-negotiable obligation for which everyone must take responsibility.
Lack of sanitary pads has been widely reported to be a major contributory factor to school absenteeism among girls in their menstrual period. Furthermore, research has documented menstruating girls’ experiences of shame, fear, and confusion across many communities in Ghana.
The challenges girls face attempting to manage their menstruation with insufficient information about their bodies, a lack of social support and ongoing social and hygiene taboos lead to a vicious cycle that affects the health and education of many girls in our communities.
Given the multiple challenges adolescent girls face, it is evident that promoting menstrual hygiene management is an important step towards safeguarding the dignity, bodily integrity, and overall life opportunities of girls.
In view of this, Speciallady Awareness has taken this upon itself to support girls/women with these needs.
Our support has reached about 15 public schools since we began in 2018. About 17,000 students have so far benefitted from our program, and about $100,000 worth of medical supplies and sanitary products has been donated.
Speciallady Awareness recognizes menstruation as a natural process for which women and girls should experience no stigma. The organization equally aligns with the voice of civil society actors and activists, calling for the exclusion of taxes on sanitary pads to reduce and ultimately end period poverty. Finally, Speciallady Awareness promotes access to science-based information about menstruation and hygiene products that will enable women and girls to menstruate without stigma, as this is their human right and which serves their dignity.
Also, Speciallady Awareness continues to educate women and young girls about the importance of seeking early diagnosis for their reproductive health disorders.