Menstruation, a natural process experienced by women, has long been shrouded in silence due to cultural taboos. However, the importance of menstrual hygiene in managing menstruation safely and with dignity cannot be understated.
Many developing countries, are addressing this critical aspect of women’s health with backing from public and private sector water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs, as well as local initiatives focusing on reproductive health and education.
Consequently, women and girls continue to face tremendous challenges regarding menstrual hygiene, hindering their access to WASH facilities, healthcare, education, dignity, and gender equity.
Recognising the urgency of this issue, the OK Tedi Development Foundation (OTDF), through its Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WaSH) program, has launched an awareness campaign in the South Fly region of Western Province, using the menstrual hygiene management (MHM) concept to teach students and communities.
Students from Gigwa Primary School and 25 individuals from Pukaduka 1 village who attended the MHM training
Mrs. Margaret Naipu Secretary to the Suki Fly Gogo Women and Children’s Association in an interview said: ”I want the MHM program to extend to the Fly Gogo communities as well as other Suki communities.”
President Mrs Saridu Saudi was vocal on the cultural beliefs and taboos relating to such topics of women health issues: “Let’s help our young female members of the community, one day this information will help save their lives when safe practices are administered at an early age and at the teenage level, I have witnessed many young mothers have complication during pregnancy and this starts with such trainings. Due to the taboo to not talk about such issues, women suffer the consequences especially when pregnant and during delivery.”
The objective of this initiative is to bridge the information gap surrounding MHM and integrate it into the WaSH development programs. By doing so, OTDF WaSH aims to empower community members with the knowledge and skills necessary to incorporate MHM effectively into their daily lives.
“MHM awareness and training must be introduced to the communities and schools in order to change the negative perception, taboos and stigma to improve the health and hygiene of women and girls. We believe that by addressing the challenges related to menstrual hygiene, we can make a tangible difference in the lives of women and girls,” said Mr. Andrew Mari, Manager Program Services Sustainable Development (PSSD) of OK Tedi Development Foundation. “Our awareness campaign in the South Fly region is just the beginning. We are committed to driving positive change, breaking down taboos, and ensuring that women and girls have the resources and support they need to manage menstruation with dignity.”
The OTDF WaSH program’s efforts to address menstrual hygiene challenges align with the broader goals of promoting gender equity, health, education, and the right to WASH services for all. By raising awareness and providing the necessary tools and knowledge, the program aims to empower women and girls, fostering a more inclusive and equitable society.
Total of 103 students from Gigwa Primary School and 25 individuals from Pukaduka 1 village attended the MHM training. 60 queen reusable pads were distributed to grade 4 to grade 8 students and MHM pamphlets. The training was delivered by Niugini Good Samaritan Foundation Inc. in partnership with OTDF.