By Deborah Oladejo, Osogbo
A corps member currently serving in Osogbo, Osun state capital, Esther Tayo-King has charged female students to maintain good hygiene especially when they are doing menstruation.
Tayo-King gave the charge when she distributed sanitary pads to female students of public secondary schools in the state.
The event which took place at Osogbo High School, Osogbo had over 3000 students drawn from St Charles High School, Adele Middle School among others.
Tayo-King said the distribution of pads and sensitisation exercise was important for the psychological, emotional and physical well being of the female students.
She said the programme was necessary to liberate most female young ones from the mythological belief about menstrual flow as many see it as sacred and should not be discussed.
She noted that though, she has started the distribution of sanitary pads since September 2019 saying the target beneficiaries were the less-privileged female students in public schools who could not afford to buy sanitary pads during menstrual flow.
“Sanitary Pad for menstrual period is actually a project aimed at promoting menstrual hygiene. This project commenced October and has been on since then. My service year wasn’t planned for any project whatsoever. It just happened.
“There was this girl by name Kadijat that comes around to fetch water for us where I stay, then suddenly around mid September 2019 I noticed I didn’t get to see her around again.
“I was so curious and wanted to know what really happened, whether she travelled or something else so I asked after her from my neighbor who is an indigene, it was then she told me she (Kadijat) was admitted to a hospital. I went to the hospital only to discover she had UTI (Urinary Tract infection) when I engaged her she told me she uses clothes as a substitute for sanitary pad due to period poverty, I was so sad and angry at the same time.
“Sad because it was disheartening and angry because I felt she was close to us and she should have at least told us before that time.
“I then took it up as I challenge to give pads to young girls in my area, then I wanted to upgrade by going to schools to share pads too but was told I wouldn’t be allowed in the school without me linking it to NYSC or a registered NGO. It was then I decided to write a proposal to NYSC and pad for period started* around mid October.
“It was then I realized many young girls are victims of sexual abuse just due to the issue of period poverty. Poor teens are out there; unpleasant smell ooze from their body because they do not use the right sanitary materials. And that just a pad could go a long way.
“Despite the challenges and all I didn’t quit.”
She promised to continue to give back to the Society saying she knew that pads are needed to ensure that the female children do not get used to using ridiculous materials during menstrual flow.
She, however, appreciated the NYSC authorities for the opportunity they gave to her to contribute her own quota to the development of the society, just as she thanked all invited guests who deemed it necessary to grace the occasion.
Speaking, the Osun State Commissioner for Women and Children Affairs, Barr Olubukola Olaboopo sensitised the female students on the dangers in maintaining poor menstrual hygiene and requirements for proper menstrual hygiene.
Represented by Mr Adelusi Adesola, Olaboopo said poor menstrual hygiene can lead to fungal and bacterial infections in reproductive and urinary tracts and serious disorders like kidney failure, infertility and cervical cancer.
She noted that menstruation still remains a taboo in some societies and this contributes to the ignorance and illiteracy on menstrual hygiene.
The Commissioner appreciated the kind gesture, adding that the exercise would impact their lives positively, saying many families cannot afford to pay for proper sanitary pads, and girls are forced to use old rags, leaves, feathers and other unhygienic items.
She therefore charged the female children on the need to always maintain good hygiene during period, to reduce risk of urinary tract infections (U. T. I) reduce incident of rashes in genital, and ensure good reproductive health.
Mrs Damilola Arowolo from Justice, Development and Peace Maker’s Center, (JDPMC) Osogbo itemized the right of the female students so they will not be deprived of their rights.