Puntland Youth Peer Network
Good Menstrual Hygiene Keeps Girls in School. Good Menstrual Hygiene Keeps Girls in School.
Tuesday, 25 Jan 2022 00:00 am
Puntland Youth Peer Network

Puntland Youth Peer Network

Having access to period products is neither a luxury nor a privilege, it is a human right but to some girls and women it is a difficult thing to obtain.

The access to menstrual hygiene contributes to the girls’ attendance at school. To most girls, lack or limited access to menstrual care or private and safe toilets to use at school, means missing days of school and putting their education at risk.

Missing days of school doesn’t only damage their education but it can have long-term consequences including early marriage, early pregnancy and a greater risk of sexual violence.

As a part of the 16 days of activism against GBV, Y-PEER Puntland funded by UNFPA Somalia distributed menstrual sanitary products to 4 different middle schools under Mudug and Nugaal districts. As observed by the administration of the schools, more than 10% of girls miss 3-4 days of school per month, missing important lectures and sometimes tests.

                                                One of the girls inspecting the distributed kits

“I had my first period when I was 12, in my sixth grade during the monthly test,” said Maryam Abdirahman, “it was a math test, I’ve studied hard for it but I was in pain and so grossed out that I couldn’t sit to finish it properly. Although disgusted at the state of the toilets at the school, I went there and just like any other girl, it was horrifying to see the blood on my skirt. I thought about how many people saw it? What would they think of me? How can I come to school after that? And before all of that, how can I go home with a blooded skirt?”

In Puntland, a pack of ten pads costs about 1.5 US dollars, but a large number of the society cannot afford that. A lot of times, girls are forced to use torn clothes and other materials, which beside being uncomfortable and unhygienic, can cause many harms, especially to girls who undergone FGM.

 

“My first period felt like nightmare, no amount of science class can prepare a girl for that,” said Halima Sayid, another student, “and no one taught us about the cost of pads, as someone from a low income family that barely afford the cost of living, on top of the pressure of the school fees and the uniform and the general expenses I was too shy to ask my mom to get me period products, forcing me to miss more than 3 days of school every month”

The distributed kits included reusable pads which was widely accepted and made the students very happy and excited.

                                                  Distribution of reusable sanitary kits to middle school girls in Nugaal and Mudug Districts.

“I never knew there is such a thing as reusable pads,” said one astonished student, Hani Kalif, “it looks comfortable, easy to clean and it won’t even damage the environment, it is definitely better than the one-time use ones.”

When girls drop out of school, the course of their life can be changed altogether. They are at greater risk of suffering violence and abuse; they are more likely to be exposed to early marriage or pregnancy which results in higher of complications during birth.

“When girls stay in school, we know that everything in their life can change,” said Fatima Ali, a teacher at one of the schools we distributed the sanitary pads, “they lose the chance to learn the knowledge and skills they need to secure a good job and provide for themselves and their families.”