Menstrual Education Festival -May 26th, 2023
Menstrual Hygiene Festival event
This May, marking the world menstrual day was held in Dodowa, the district capital of the Shai-Osudoku District, a district located on the northeast enclave of the Greater Accra region. The event was held on the 26th May, 2023, from 9:00am to 2:30pm.
The issues of menstruation and its related issues must become a great concern in the society and for this matter a lot of work has to be invested to tackle every challenges girls and women confront to have a safe, hygienic and a dignified period time monthly from menarche to menopause. As you may know in Ghana, many girls especially in the sub and rural areas stay at home simply because of inadequate knowledge, taboos, myths and one major hindrance, lack of sanitary kits termed as period poverty and safe spaces. This in view, we started Menstrual Hygiene Management which has now become our flagship programme we run every year to reach many girls as possible with reusable pads and enough education and sensitisation.
Every year since 2018, when we started this project, it keeps getting better year after year as seen this May. We had this event in conjunction with the Health and Education Directorate of the district and we are happy to say that they organised the school girls and venue for the event to the place. The School Health Education Coordinator herself prepared the programme line up which as very kind of her. The office provided water for the occasion as well we provided the lunch snack (meat pie and soft drinks)
The atmosphere, in the auditorium of the Presbyterian Church was looked exciting as we displayed a table showcasing cloth pad products; sizes and patterns, materials used in making the clothpads, the snap press and an industrial scissors. We also had menstrual cups and Needbe’s menstrual Hygiene festival souvenirs, T – shirts and stickers displayed to raise funds for the next project right at the entrance for participants to have a look before they sit down. We had a pull up banner made this time coupled with our previous banners with menstrual hygiene festival and menstrual cycle chart prints raised outside and inside. The district education office provided a projector for us to project the slides we prepared for presentation. The pupils filled the front pews in their different school uniform making the room colourful.
The event started with pupils registering with the signup sheet provided by the education office and the prayer was said to commence the event. The District Education Director, Mrs Harriet Lomotey gave a speech about the background of Menstrual Hygiene day and stated this phenomena is part and parcel of society hence more attention must be given to it. She reiterated no girl should be ashamed of her period blood. Just as they will have a blood stain in their underwear and wash it, they should treat the clothpads the same as and be happy to use them. Menstruation is a good omen and shows the sign of real womanhood.
Aside the Mrs Harriet, we had The District Director for Health, Rev. Dr Ebenezer Assiamah gracing the occasion with his presence. In his speech, we said he once at school have to cover a girlfriend who had soiled herself unknowingly with his pullover and so there is a need for more education and support for girls as its part of society.
The teaching tool slide was presented by members and personnel from the District Health and Education Directorate and Women’s health nurses from the Shai-Osudoku Hospital respectively. We had volunteer from in and out of Accra, some of whom applied from the advert on Ghana Volunteers Programme email list, Facebook and friends sharing. We had in all 11 volunteers attending the event who were very instrumental in facilitating workshops, focus group discussions, sharing water and food, maintaining order and general overseeing the event running.
Pupils where taken through subjects like anatomy and physiology of a woman’s body, menstrual cycle calculations, pre-menstrual syndrome, hygiene, nutrition amongst others. Demonstration of how to ear the clothpads and cups were done by some experts presents. In between at lunch time, we had some musical performance by Naa Kwama Thompson, a guest expatriate who is passionate about ending period poverty sing 3 songs with backing tracks and the girls jammed and danced to it. She changed the game of the events and moods were ignited with excitement.
Finally, the last session where the pupils in groups discussed and presented challenges while menstruation in the society facilitated by volunteers and the personnel present was very interesting. We gathered a lot of questions and answers out of this session, feedback after the event suggested that the focus group discussion was very productive. We took note of some of the strange issues that girls shared they go through at home and school while menstruating. For example, a parent locks her daughter in the house when she is menstruating, some said they feel for sex when they are menstruating.
At the end, we share 6 clothpads for 100 girls with some 20 of them also getting menstrual cups. This means that they will go 3 year without having to buy expensive sanitary pads and for those with the cups, 10 year free from sanitary. This will also go a long way to build confidence in the girls because they will no longer have to improvise with paper, handkerchiefs, toilet rolls etc to manage their period blood We had photoshoots outside and some girls and dignitaries we interviewed where they shared their thoughts and experience about the event.