Panellists at a symposium to commemorate this year’s World Menstrual Hygiene Day have called on citizens to break the stigma surrounding menstruation, including myths about the menstrual cycle.
They said menstruation was a biological phenomenon and a natural process that needed to be accepted as such.
According to the panellists, the myth surrounding menstruation prevented girls from freely talking about issues that bothered them before and during their menstrual cycle.
They, therefore, called for the active engagement of stakeholders, including proper sensitisation and education on menstruation and menstrual hygiene for both males and females.
The day, which is commemorated on May 28,every year, was held in Accra on the theme: “We are committed to creating a Ghana where every girl and woman have access to period-friendly facilities”.
In attendance were representatives of NGOs, schoolchildren and menstrual health ambassadors who discussed issues that hinder proper menstrual hygiene practices, among other topics.
Removing stigma Sharing her perspective on menstruation management, a Menstrual Hygiene Ambassador and Convener of Alliance for Women in Media Africa, Shamima Muslim, said one of the ways to debunk the stigma around the subject was being free to mention words such as period, menstruation and blood.
She also entreated the government and traditional leaders to collaborate and review negative cultural practices that affected girls when they had their periods in communities, especially rural communities.
“Some negative cultural practices such as female genital mutilation (FGM) have been outlawed. So if we find that there are still some cultural practices that are hindering the advancement and development of girls, then the government has to step in to ensure that those practices are minimised or halted," she said.
She further called for a 20 per cent reduction in prices of sanitary pads to make it easier for girls to purchase them.
A Senior Water Supply and Sanitation specialist at the World Bank, Harold Esseku, said it was important to build period-friendly toilet facilities in schools and communities to make it comfortable for girls to change and care for themselves during their menses.
The Minister of Health, Dr Kwaku Agyeman Manu, in a speech read on his behalf, said educating females on how to handle themselves during their menstrual period and also maintain good personal hygiene would help reduce the chances of getting infected.
In a speech read on behalf of the Chief Director of the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Dr Afisah Zakariah, she said: “Menstruation should not only be seen as a health issue, but also a reproductive and human rights issue”.
She added that the ministry would continue to advocate the abolition of all harmful cultural practices and beliefs that were inimical to the well-being and prosperity of women in the country.