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Poor toilet facilities force girls out of school during menstruation – Muinjangue

Written by on May 28, 2024

Deputy minister of health and social services, Esther Muinjangue says statistics shows that many girls stay out of school when on their menstrual cycle because of poor toilet facilities.

She said this at the commemoration of World Menstrual Hygiene Day held at Origo Primary School in Rehoboth on Tuesday.

The day was observed for the seventh time in Namibia and was held under the theme ‘Together, We Can Make Menstruation a Normal Fact of Life by 2030.’

“A wash needs assessment report of 2014 by the Society for Family Health found that only 29% of schools have flush toilets, over a quarter of girls (28%) use toilet facilities that were not separated from those of the boys and over half of schools (51%) make no provision for girls in relation to menstruation i.e., a handwashing station with soap and water and a rubbish bin inside toilets for safe disposal of pads,” she said.

Muinjangue said girls become shy and stressed during menstruation and many therefore opt to stay at home if they do not have the right facilities, sanitary products and information to manage their menstruation in a dignified manner.

She said within some cultural groups in Namibia, menstruation remains a taboo, often associated with uncleanliness and shame.

She said within these cultural settings, women and girls are forced to be quiet during menstruation and parents do not feel comfortable sharing information with their growing children.

“When girls do not have adequate sanitation facilities, when they face challenges in getting sanitary pads and when they are surrounded by discriminatory social taboos about menstrual cycle, they will continue to be deprived of opportunities to participate freely and comfortably in school, at play or other social activities. All girls must be privileged with dignified, safe and private facilities and sanitary products, as to guarantee body hygiene and confidence to remain productive in daily activities during the menstruation period,” she said.

Muinjangue noted that in Namibia women and girls who live in poverty do not always have access to sanitary products and are forced to make use of unsanitary and ineffective materials which can introduce diseases and infections.

She said talking about menstruation should not make people feel uneasy or embarrassed.

The deputy minister added that the menstrual health and hygiene day is held to help break the silence that covers the topic and helps to build awareness that this is a normal, major stage of puberty in girls.

“When we talk freely and positively about menstruation and when policies and facilities are in place for menstrual health and hygiene management, girls will be empowered to know that there are no limits to their daily activities and lives during the time of menstruation. The government is making efforts to address the gaps in menstrual health and hygiene as one of the strategies to achieve sustainable development goals for health, access to education, gender equality, access to water and sanitation and to ensure female participation in the workforce for sustainable economic growth,” she stated.

Miss Namibia 2023, Jameela Uiras said there is still a stigma about menstruation when talking about it.

“When we speak about menstruation it often seems like you are talking about something that must not be spoken of, but it is a worldwide norm. It is not something to be ashamed and embarrassed about, menstruation must not be a source of shame. It is part of our daily lives, we must support each other openly,” she said.

Uiras urged young girls and women to take care of their bodies and always be clean. She said menstrual hygiene is a right.

Camisha Einbeck, Rehoboth High School (RHS) 2023 head girl, junior councillor member and reigning Miss RHS urged girls to not feel that menstruation is some sort of burden or punishment. She said it actually shows that females are wonderfully made by God.

“Girls you are so strong because you go through it all. During menstruation you may face a lot of emotions. Girls, you must know that you stand out and are strong – not only because of your uniqueness, but because of the strength that you carry during your menstruation period. God has an art of making females,” Einbeck said.

Einbeck urged boys to never make a mockery when they see a girl during her menstruation, but to instead offer their assistance.

“I know sometimes at school accidents can happen when a girl might stain her dress. I urge others to not make fun of her situation. Lets be a strong and brave youth that look out for each other. In such times be that boy who covers her up and say lets go to the life skills teacher. Boys, let’s stand up and support our sisters,” Einbeck said.
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The post Poor toilet facilities force girls out of school during menstruation – Muinjangue appeared first on The Namibian.

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