In commemoration of the annual United Nations World Menstrual Hygiene Day, over 600 schoolgirls have been empowered on how they can take care of their menstrual health and given sanitary pads by Girls Talk With Ariyiike (GTWA), a charity initiative led by CEO, actress, and event host, Ariyiike Owolagba.
The sanitary towels project which took place at Abeokuta Grammar School, saw healthcare practitioners engage young schoolgirls between the ages of 10-17 years, on their menstrual health and how to manage it, as well as distributing sanitary towels to them. The outreach was done in partnership with the Office of the First Lady of Ogun state and Procter & Gamble, makers of Always Nigeria.
According to Ariyiike, the focus of the initiative is to get the girls, especially in the rural areas, sensitised on menstrual health and hygiene to mitigate the incidence of them dropping out of school.
She stated, “Research shows that hygiene and sanitation problems as a result of economic status, as well as cultural taboos around menstruation, lead to many girls missing an average of four school days every month.
“This means that in a year, many girls miss over a month of school, which leads to them falling behind academically and dropping out altogether. This is why there is a disparity in how young girls’ school attendance is so wildly different from young boys, and we decided to get busy closing this attendance gap’’.
With eight years in operation, she said that GTWA has not only left a mark among the school girls, but also cultivated long-term relationships with over 27,000 girls, empowering them through education, sanitary products, and ongoing relationships with counsellors.
The school tour started four years ago upon the realisation that action will go well with advocacy in closing the gap, and through the participation of medical professionals, counsellors, and volunteers, Ariyiike has been able to leave a lasting impact on thousands of girls year after year.
At the outreach, she distributed free sanitary towels to female students, but not without delivering fun and engaging training and Q&A sessions to discuss menstrual health. The girls have a lot of questions about the topic, but Ariyiike continues to find new and entertaining ways to get and keep young, disadvantaged girls, empowered.
She said ‘the first edition was in 2020, and we visited Iseyin District Grammar School, Iseyin, Oyo state. For the second edition held in 2021, we visited Oregun Junior and Senior High School.
“The third edition was in 2022, and we visited Radiance B&G College, Agbado, Ogun State where we caught the attention of the First Lady of Ogun State and we had a conversation about partnership for the 4th edition.
“I was also invited to the girl child event put together by the First Lady to mentor the girls in celebration of the International Day of the girl child in 2022’’.
For the fourth edition of the Girl Talk With Ariyiike Menstrual Hygiene School tour, they visited another school in Ogun state as the partnership with the First Lady and GTWA is to extend this movement to all school girls in Ogun state.