Menstruation presents significant challenges for girls worldwide, including in Ghana, where approximately 95% of girls occasionally miss school due to this natural process (Mahon et al., 2012). The lack of adequate sanitary pads, and facilities, cultural beliefs associating menstruation with uncleanness, discomfort, pain, and the risk of social ridicule contribute to the barriers girls face in attending school. Consequently, girls experience stigma and limited access to menstrual hygiene products, such as sanitary pads and tissue paper, which compounds their challenges.
Every day, a group of girls either face stigmatization or lack access to essential menstrual hygiene products, including sanitary pads and tissue paper. This reality is not confined to Ghana alone; it is a global issue. In addition to the physical discomfort experienced during menstruation, girls also face the financial burden of purchasing expensive sanitary pads. Moreover, in certain regions of Ghana, the unavailability of these products forces girls to resort to unhygienic practices, such as using old clothes as makeshift pads.
Menstrual Hygiene Day 2023 aims to rally individuals to translate increased awareness of menstrual health and hygiene into tangible action and investment. The primary goals are to break the silence surrounding menstruation, challenge associated stigmas, and raise awareness about the importance of menstrual hygiene for women and girls. By fostering a supportive environment, the objective is to normalize menstruation as a natural part of life by the year 2030.
As part of its commitment to promoting safe periods and facilitating access to menstrual products, Starlight Foundation has been actively engaged in its Let Her Know initiative. Over the years, this initiative has targeted young girls and differently-abled individuals, providing them with menstrual hygiene education through engaging activities and games. The program equips participants with the knowledge and skills to manage menstruation effectively, reducing the likelihood of ridicule and stigmatization. Additionally, participants receive reusable sanitary pads, suitable for areas with a constant water supply, as well as disposable sanitary pads to support their monthly menstrual cycles.
This year, in collaboration with Adamfo Ghana and Wings of Support, Starlight Foundation expands its reach to schools and communities. Through this partnership, girls in various educational institutions and communities will gain access to reusable pads designed to last for several years. This collaborative effort stems from a shared vision and commitment to eradicating period poverty and empowering girls to feel confident and secure during their menstruation.
The collective efforts of organizations such as Starlight Foundation, Adamfo Ghana, and Wings of Support are vital in promoting menstrual hygiene and empowering girls. By raising awareness, breaking taboos, and providing sustainable solutions, we contribute to a brighter future for girls and communities. Together, we can eliminate period poverty and foster an environment where girls can embrace their menstruation with dignity and confidence.
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