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Girls lack father’s support for menstrual health – UNICEF

by Haruna Gimba
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By Muhammad Amaan

A recent report from U-REPORT Nigeria, a digital community for young people supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has revealed a relatively low level of fatherly support for girls during their menstrual cycle.

According to the report unveiled at the 2024 World Menstrual Hygiene Day celebration in Ibadan, Oyo State, 48 per cent of young girls feel their fathers lack an understanding of menstrual-related difficulties.

Speaking about the finding, UNICEF’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene specialist, Mr Monday Johnson, said the report on what young women think about the support that they get from their parents revealed that 28 per cent said they don’t feel listened to by their fathers.

He added that 25 per cent said their fathers dismissed issues around menstruation, while 36 per cent admitted using menstrual hygiene packs.

Johnson explained that menstruation is a normal process that happens to every woman, and called for the support of the government, NGOs, donor organisations, and parents, especially fathers and boys during menstruation.

He said, “A lot of taboos exist, and a lot of myths exist. Everybody must be involved in supporting girls during menstruation. We need to have a situation where, during the period, everybody is friendly and supportive, and they are able to have access to the products at an affordable price.”

The Oyo State Health Commissioner, Dr Oluwaseresimi Ajetunmobi, lamented that an estimated 500 million women lack access to menstrual products and adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene management.

She stated that stigmatisation, misinformation, and inadequate access to resources continue to undermine the ability of many to manage their menstruation healthily and respectfully.

The commissioner stated that comprehensive menstrual education should be integrated into school curricula and community programmes to dispel myths and normalise conversations about menstruation, as well as ensure access to menstrual hygiene products as a right.

Dr Ajetunmobi reiterated the Oyo State government’s commitment to health, including menstrual hygiene management.

She urged everyone to be a champion for menstrual health and to build a future where everyone can manage their periods with dignity and pride.

“We need to create an open dialogue where people feel comfortable discussing their menstrual health without fear of ridicule or shame. It is only through collective action and unwavering dedication that we can create a period-friendly world, a world where menstruation is seen not as a burden but as a natural and healthy part of life,” she said.

The Oyo State President, Medical Women Association of Nigeria, Dr Omowumi Femi-Akinlosotu, on her part, said it is important for girls to know how to take care of themselves during their menstrual cycle and advocated for boys to stand against body shaming females undergoing the experience.

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