The Norwegian Church Aid has distributed over one hundred dignity kits to vulnerable girls at the Mangateen IDP camp in Juba as part of the global Menstrual Hygiene Day.
The hygiene kit contains a collection of personal care items dedicated to helping adolescent girls at the camp to continue their education during the menstrual cycle without hindrance.
According to the Norwegian Church Aid in South Sudan, the health and well-being of women and girls depend on the significance of maintaining good menstrual hygiene.
It is reported that approximately 500 million women and girls worldwide lack access to sufficient information, sanitary products, and facilities to effectively manage their periods.
Nyakuot Top Kuek, the GBV and Reproductive Coordinator for Norwegian Church Aid said the reusable sanitary pads distributed to girls at Mangateen will alleviate the financial burden on parents who usually purchase disposable pads for their daughters every month.
“We distributed 100 dignity kits which is a kit that they [girls] use when they have menstruation,” said Nyakuot Top Kuek.
“It has a lot of things inside. It also has a towel to use and there is a soap for them to use for washing,
“The sanitary pad that we give is a reusable one so it can be used for a period of 12 months.”
A piece of disposal sanitary pad currently costs around 500 to 800 pounds in the market in Juba and may be high in other parts of the country.
NCA said the lack of sanitary products and facilities has adverse effects on women and girls’ education, health, and quality of life.
According to Nyakuot, the Norwegian Church Aid wants to see that school girls within the areas of their operation do not drop out of school due to a lack of hygienic kits.
She is however encouraging parents to take the lead in providing sanitary products to their daughters to keep them at school.
“What we want to achieve is to see girls don’t drop out of schools because of menstruation because this is something natural,” she said.
“This is something we are all born of, so it should not be a shame and stigma should be avoided,
“My message to the parents is that they have to make sure that they educate their girl child about menstrual hygiene management,
“They [parents] are the primary people to provide sanitary pads to their daughters so that when they go to school and they have that pad in their school bag, they will be able to change if that thing [menstruation] occurs in school.”
The Norwegian Church Aid in South Sudan is part of the interagency that implements and engages the communities on issues on the Period with Dignity Campaign.
On Monday, the Norwegian Church Aid joined other agencies to mark World Menstruation Hygiene Day at Mangateen IDPs camp in Juba under the theme “making menstruation a normal fact of life by 2030.”
During the event, the agency created awareness of menstrual hygiene management, provide dignity kit packages and also encourage girls and women to effectively utilize the dignity kit, maintain proper hygiene, and safeguard themselves.
In an interview with Eye Radio, Angelina, a 17-year-old primary seven pupil at DMI Primary School in the Mangateen IDP camp said girls in her area feel ashamed during their period at school due to the limited availability of sanitary products and facilities.
According to Angelina, girls are sharing one washroom at her school with boys which makes it difficult for them to effectively manage their periods.
However, she is appealing to the government and development partners to provide her school with running water and sanitation facilities to help girls maintain good hygiene.
“We don’t have a toilet for changing girls’ pants because if your period comes, it will be hard for you to go and change while there are many boys,” Angelina said.
“I want you to make it for us latrines so that we can be able to change our clothes and even water tanks,
“You can even fetch our water and bring it to the school compound because it is hard for us to go to the neighbours and ask them if we need water.”
Angelina is among the over 100 school girls who received the dignity kit package from the Norwegian Church Aid on Monday.
She said even though she never misses a class because of her menstrual cycle, Angelina usually borrows sanitary pads from her friends when her family cannot afford to buy them for her.
“If I know my period has come I used to beg someone to give me something and wear it so that it will not appear from my skirt then I will go to school,” she said.
“If there is no toilet, it will pain me inside there that is why I am telling you that you can provide us toilet and water because if you don’t have those sanitary pads,
“It will be hard for you to go to school because of that one pad if you wear it at home because we are afternoon section, it will take two minutes and you will remove and throw it away that is why I want you [NCA] to bring for us more sanitary pads,
“I was never absent one day because of my period. If I have a friend having that pants, I will beg her that assist me with one and let me go and wear it for today.”
The menstrual cycle among adolescent girls in South Sudan is believed to be associated with a taboo among peer groups.
Reports also suggest that menstrual health and hygiene often receive insufficient attention during humanitarian crises in many countries.
But the Norwegian Church Aid says practising proper menstrual hygiene management, individuals can prevent infections, boost self-esteem, and ensure equal opportunities for education and work.
Saprine Peter, a 34-year-old mother of 3 at the Mangateen IDPs camp in Juba says most parents still find it difficult to properly handle menstrual hygiene and in addressing the associated misconceptions by the teenage boys in the family.
“When it is time for menstruation, sometimes it is difficult for girls to handle, so, it is our responsibility as mothers to ensure that you closely monitor the wellbeing of our girls,” said Saprine.
“As a mother, I will not accept boys disturbing these girls during their period because menstruation is part of our life,
“When my girls experience their period, I always advised the boys not to disturb them because it is not a shame to experience menstruation,
“As a mother, you should make sure that whenever your girl experiences her period take good care of her, and buy her a sanitary pad and juice because if she losses blood. she needs to eat well.”
However, Martin Yap, the Deputy Headteacher of DMI Primary School at Mangateen IDPs camp in Juba agrees.
He says the best way to address misconceptions and minimize stigma surrounding the menstrual hygiene is to provide adolescent girls with more sanitary pads.
“These boys, you can tell them today that don’t do stigma but in the long line, they can still continue doing that so the best thing is to provide the sanitary pads,” Martin Yap said.
“NCA who is carrying out the awareness should provide sanitary pads for a certain period of time that could be the best way.”
The Norwegian Church Aid in South Sudan believes that menstruation is a natural aspect of life that should be openly discussed and prioritized to address the needs of women and girls.
At Mangateen, the agency through its partner, the Messianic Jewish Aid Organization supports the displaced women and girls by providing a space where women and girls feel safe and empowered.
Nyajima Mabil, the Messianic Jewish Aid Organization’s GBV officer says the International Menstrual Hygiene Day marked every year on 28th May is to foster compassion and understanding for positive changes.
“This day is basically to create awareness to the communities and also to girls that the menstrual cycle or the menstrual hygiene day is basically to create awareness,” Nyajima said.
“As you can see from the drama, most of these girls don’t even know the menstrual cycle,
“Let’s make sure that we created awareness within the community and show that the partners are here to support women and girls.”
Nyajima says they are currently equipping women and girls with knowledge to enable them to make informed decisions about their health and well-being.
“At the centre, we always have sessions with adolescent girls and this session targets parts of reproductive health,” said Nyajima.
“We touch different parts within the reproductive health session so that they are able to know their bodies as girls so that they are able to know some of the things that happen,
“These are naturally not man-made but things you are created with so the fact that we are doing sessions with the girls on reproductive health, it also helps them to make sure that they are able to know their body better.”
NCA used International Menstrual Hygiene Day to urge the authorities to provide adequate WASH facilities in educational settings, citing the importance of enabling girls to manage their menstrual periods with dignity.
The agency further encourages the government to enhance funding for menstrual hygiene management saying it is essential to promote the retention of girls in school.
Ayiko Wani, the Director of Gender at the State Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare in Central Equatoria acknowledged the importance of managing menstrual periods with dignity.
“Menstruation hygiene is a very important day. It is sending the message that menstruation is a factor of life,” said Ayiko.
“It can be celebrated as a way of making awareness in the communities, to the pupils, girls who are adolescents, and women,
“Most of the girls who are adolescents in schools, they drop out because of menstruation and some of them when this menstruation period starts, they feel ashamed when they are being laughed at, at schools, particularly by their peer ones, the boys.”
Ayiko says it is the primary responsibility of parents to ensure that the menstrual period is handled with dignity at the family level.
“The parents should educate their parents in the family about this menstruation through good practices of health and sanitation provision,” said Ayiko.
“Our responsibility in this matter, we have to advocate and lobby, particularly how to make awareness about this menstruation hygiene promotion,
“It is our effort as the government in order to lobby with these partners so that they can be able to educate or to make awareness to the communities.”
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