Community Healthcare Initiative (CHI) in collaboration with ActionAid-Liberia on Monday celebrated Menstrual Hygiene Day, with a call for government to drop taxes on sanitary materials.
Naomi Tulay-Solanke, CHI executive director, said Menstrual Hygiene Day is intended to break the silence and build awareness about the fundamental role that hygiene management plays in enabling women and girls to reach their full potential.
At Monday’s celebration, held at the Calvary Chapel Mission School in Paynesville, outside Monrovia, students displayed placards with inscriptions: “My Period, My Pride, Menstruation is no More a Taboo; Let’s Start the Conversation about Menstruation; Don’t Stigmatize me.”
The fifth month of every year is celebrated as World Menstrual Hygiene Day, because many of the women seeing their period up to five days represents the fifth month in a year.
“This day is been celebrated by various type of organizations, but mainly women’s groups that are involved in advocacy for women and girls,” Mrs. Tulay-Solanke said.
This year’s celebration is held under the international theme, “No More Limits” and a national theme, “Promoting Girls Retention in School.”
“I have been known for a local invention few years ago, mainly the reusable pad. During a program with ActionAid, I noticed that girls’ retention in school was a problem in seven of the 15 counties, and existed in all of the communities visited. We investigated and realized that menstrual hygiene was one of the reasons responsible, which led me to engage into such an invention,” Mrs. Tulay-Solanke said.
According to Mrs. Tulay-Solanke, many of the girls never had access to pads. Either the pad is very expensive in communities or the girls had disposable pads and nothing left, which resulted into using something uncomfortable.
“It is important to find something more hygienic, sustainable and durable that girls and women will feel comfortable using. To address this situation, we have CHI pad for girls that is absolutely free. This is given to girls in three counties, and it can be used up to the end of the year,” Solanke said.
Mrs. Solanke then called on the government to remove taxes on all sanitary materials, to allow girls access their needs.
CHI seeks to create communities where the inhabitants will have access to adequate healthcare services, especially women and girls.
Naomi Bondo, a student from the Kendeja Junior High School, spoke of her impression about the celebration, especially with a plan to educate young girls.
“I had this situation or experience at the age of 13 while going to the market. Not knowing anything, I immediately rushed home and informed my mother and was educated about my menstrual period. So it is important for young girls to know about it before it occurs to them,” student Bondo suggested.