Safané (Boucle du Mouhoun): SNV wants to break taboos around menstruation in schools

The Dutch Development Organization (SNV), in collaboration with World waternet, celebrated the International Day of Menstrual Health and Hygiene on Friday 27 May 2022 in the rural municipality of Safané, Mouhoun province. This commemoration, placed under the theme “Menstrual health and hygiene education for all”, was intended to encourage the commitment of the entire school community to break the taboos associated with the issue of menstruation through the school environment, through communication – and advocacy activities.

For the first time, Mouhoun Province hosted the celebration of the International Day of Menstrual Health and Hygiene. The Safané departmental secondary school served as the setting for the memorial ceremony chaired by the high commissioner of the province, Balili Badjel.

For him, the well-being of adolescents is a concern for everyone, hence the need to act to guarantee them a future through their good growth and the promotion of their good health.

The High Commissioner of Mouhoun Province, Balili Badjel

Mr Badjel acknowledged the “disastrous consequences” of the taboo weighing on young girls’ menstruation and invited all actors, especially the school community, to ensure that young girls can live normally “in their girl status”.

The provincial director in charge of post-primary and secondary education in Mouhoun, Ali Toé, who represents the regional director, said the school environment does not provide the conditions to allow school girls to properly manage their periods. Therefore, the early celebration of the International Day of Menstruation at School by the Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) is welcome. According to Mr. Toé, this activity will help break the taboo surrounding the subject, especially in schools. It also lays the groundwork for a partnership for better menstrual management because, he says, “at an educational level, we really need support and we are pleased that SNV is proposing to make facilities available in the places where it operates, toilets and other practical conditions to facilitate the management of menstrual hygiene”.

Students were taught how to use equipment during menstruation

According to the head of the Water, Hygiene and Sanitation sector of SNV, Aminata Bara, the celebration of this day in favor of better management of menstruation in school stems from the implementation of the project “Water, key to sustainable development (ECDD )”.

In addition to carrying out agricultural activities, the project aims to improve access to drinking water, hygiene and sanitation for the rural population. To this end, it carries out various activities, including raising awareness of the hygienic handling of menstruation in schools. We know that in this environment “students suffer a lot. Many students drop out of school and others lose their education because of the menstrual problem because the school environment does not guarantee the conditions to manage their periods with dignity. There is no supervision and the existing structures do not meet the standards,” explains Aminata Bara.

The head of the Water, Hygiene and Sanitation sector of SNV, Aminata Bara

In order to achieve its objectives in this area, the ECDD project aims to focus on communication actions aimed at students. Indeed, Ms. Bara cited a study conducted by UNICEF and pointed out that 66% of young girls have no information about menstruation before their first period. Hence the urgency to break taboos; something that, according to her, requires the commitment of everyone.

The celebration of this day was also the opportunity for SNV to award prizes to the best students of the departmental secondary schools of Kona and Safané. Twenty in number received school kits in addition to girls’ menstrual kits.

Rosalie Ayoro is a student in the 1st A4 class at the Safané departmental secondary school. She says she learned a lot and benefited from practical advice on the hygienic treatment of menstruation at home and at school.

Rosalie Ayoro, student in 1st A4 of the Safané departmental high school

In the province of Mouhoun, the ECDD project is active in the rural municipalities of Safané and Kona. At the school level, it will affect about ten schools in the two municipalities during the implementation, which will run from December 2020 to November 2024.

The project “Water, key to sustainable development” is financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and its implementation is provided by SNV and its partner World waternet.

Yipene NEBI

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