Josephine Oppong-Yeboah, Media personality and Gender Advocate
Josephine Oppong-Yeboah, Media personality and Gender Advocate

Menstruation should not become barrier to girls in going to school - Josephine Oppong-Yeboah

Media personality and gender advocate, Josephine Oppong-Yeboah, has raised concern on the stigma and practical difficulties many women and girls face in Ghana during their periods.

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She said many girls had to abandon classes during their periods because of lack of sanitary facilities in many schools to enable such girls to properly keep themselves clean during the period.

“Some schools lack water and no safe place to change and dispose of their pads,” she said, adding that “Young girls still in schools mostly lack confidence when they do not have access to pads.”

For her, some girls also avoid schools because they do not have access to sanitary pads for their menstruation, she noted. 

Ms Oppong-Yeboah, who was speaking with Graphic Online concerning this year’s World Menstrual Day said the pandemic is threatening decades of progress made in building girls’ knowledge and providing an enabling environment for effective management of menstruation.

She expressed the concern that while the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the poor access to sanitary products and heightened the levels of ‘period poverty,’ it has also exposed the inadequate toilet or WASH facilities across schools.

World Menstrual Day

Menstrual Hygiene Day is a global platform that brings together government agencies, non-governmental organisations, the private sector and the media, among others, to promote good Menstrual Hygiene Management.

Menstrual Hygiene Day helps to break the silence and build awareness about the fundamental role that good menstrual hygiene plays in enabling women and girls to reach their full potential.

The theme for this year’s celebration is; “We Need to Step up Action and Investment in Menstrual Health and Hygiene Now! #TimeforAction.”

Menstruation and Schooling

For Ms Oppong-Yeboah, it is sad that some girls had to abandon their classes due to their menstruation, calling on school managements to improve WASH facilities and ensure girls stay in school to complete their cycle of education.

Touching on period poverty, she said, many girls, particularly those in less privileged homes often find it difficult to afford menstrual products during menstruation.

That, she noted, girls who are unable to afford menstrual products often resort to unhygienic practices in keeping themselves clean during their period.

Menstruation, Ms Oppong-Yeboah said, is an integral part of a woman’s life but a nightmare for many women and girls around the world who cannot afford sanitary products.

She has, therefore, urged duty bearers at all levels to understand the need that this is an area that requires urgent intervention, saying “menstrual hygiene is a way of telling our young girls and women how to manage their menstruation.”

Misconceptions/ Menstrual Hygiene Day

She also described misconceptions associated with menstruation as barriers to development, saying “In some cultures, when a women or girl is menstruating, she cannot do certain things in their homes, with some girls denied the opportunity to go school.”

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