On International Women’s Day, Speak Up Africa partners with Apiafrique to deliver menstrual hygiene management workshop for high school students in the Thies region of Senegal
Openly approaching subjects long thought to be cultural taboo is not always an easy task. However, advocating for a better understanding of menstrual hygiene is one commitment Speak Up Africa is dedicated to improving with its campaign “No Taboo Periods”.
Partnering with Apiafrique, a Dakar-based social enterprise that produces environment-friendly feminine hygiene products, Speak Up Africa facilitated a workshop for students at a Ngaparou high school as part of the school’s International Women’s Day activities on 8 March 2018.
With boys, girls and teaching staff present, Speak Up Africa’s gender specialist Selly Ba opened the workshop by explaining the differences in male and female reproductive systems, detailing how the body changes over time for both. Initially full of giggles, the students grew quiet and attentive as Selly continued her presentation with an introduction to menstruation and the natural process the female body goes through monthly.
Teaching tools developed by Speak Up Africa were used to illustrate the care and use of various feminine hygiene products, including a reusable sanitary pad developed and manufactured in Senegal by Apiafrique. To close the workshop, Apiafrique’s Marina Gning (CEO) and Fatoumata Aidara (Marketing Manager), joined Selly in quizzing students on what they learned during the morning, and later answered questions from all the students.
In addition to the morning workshop, a smaller training session was conducted for 25 students who would become advocates for menstrual hygiene management (MHM), answering questions and teaching their peers about the importance of MHM.
Largely neglected by the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector, and still not fully considered in public policy, menstrual hygiene continues to pose challenges for women and girls globally. Throughout Africa, women and girls are often thought of as impure during menstrual cycles, and face societal exclusion, as well as a lack of adequate sanitation infrastructure in schools and homes.
In sub-Saharan Africa, one girl out of ten does not go to school during her menstrual cycle, amounting to an approximate 20% lost in school time over the course of a year. However, addressing menstrual hygiene properly and helping communities eliminate the shame associated with menstruation can lead to health, environment and economic gains for everyone.
Speak Up Africa uses it’s “No Taboo Periods” campaign as a tool to positively impact and change perceptions around MHM. Targeting national policies and decision makers in health, environment, water and sanitation, workshops have been delivered in Senegal, and in Freetown, by special request of H.E. Sia Nyama Koroma, the First Lady of Sierra Leone.