Adolescent girls urged to be confident during menstruation

Accra, Adolescent girls in Ghana are confronted with Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) challenges with about 50 per cent knowing nothing about menstruation before they have their first period.

Research conducted by the Ghana Education Service (GES) and UNICEF had indicated 95 per cent of girls miss school due to this.

In line with this, the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with UNICEF and the Canadian High Commission had educated girls on how to manage themselves and be confident during menstruation as part of activities to mark this year’s Menstrual Hygiene Day.

The Day, which is observed on May 28, is also to educate the girls on the need to be confident during this period having at the back of their minds that this is a natural phenomenon.

It was on the theme: Education about Menstruation Changes Everything.

Professor Cynthia Bosumtwi-Sam, the Acting Deputy Director General of the Ghana Education Service, said Menstrual Hygiene Management aims at providing support to girls to enable them to manage their menstrual periods by observing good hygiene practices.

She said wrong attitudes towards menstrual hygiene and practices may persist if parents did not come clearly to educate their children.

Prof. Bosumtwi-Sam said a research conducted by the Federation of African Women Educationists on MHM in schools also showed that some girls do not go to school because most schools do not have Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities for them to change and freshen up.

It is important that we draw awareness on all these and, as partners and NGOs, we can collectively provide the facilities but most importantly provide education to both families and teachers, she said.

Prof Kwesi Opoku Amankwa, the Director General of the GES, who read a speech on behalf of the Education Minister, said menstruation had been shrouded in secrecy for far too long due to cultural taboos, religious beliefs and myths.

He said it had become necessary to empower adolescent girls with adequate knowledge to understand the crucial issues on menstrual management.

The provision of adequate and accessible WASH facilities in schools will enhance girls’ attendance to school during menstruation, he said.

Prof. Amankwa, therefore, called on various stakeholders to rally support for the programme and help in breaking taboos and rather pay attention to managing issues associated with menstruation.

Mr David Duncan, the Chief of WASH at UNICEF, said menstrual hygiene was relevant to all and it needed to be talked about.

He said it was important that boys and men were educated on menstruation to enable them to support the girls during this time.

Mr Duncan noted that in order to solve this problem it was better if boys and teachers were well informed and be made part of this journey to find a lasting solution to the challenge.

He said UNICEF would continue to support programmes that would help to promote the welfare of children and ensure that teasing and stigma meted out to girls were put to a stop.

The ambassadors to menstrual hygiene management, Ms Shamima Muslim, a Broadcaster, MzVee, a Musician, Mr Israel Laryea, a Journalist, Ms Wendy Laryea, a Journalist and Ms Edna Vorsah, WASH Activitist advised girls and boys to support each other during this time.

They encouraged the girls to accept menstruation as being part of womanhood, saying; embrace your feminity because the act is normal and do not to be shy when you have to change your sanitary pads.

MzVee advised the girls to know about their menstrual cycle and the type of flow they get and prepare adequately for it when their time was due to prevent soiling themselves.

She said: Menstruation is painful and urged the boys not to add to the pains of menstruating girls by teasing them.

Source: Ghana News Agency