As Liberia joined the world in observance of Menstrual Hygiene Day, students in Monrovia have petitioned the Government of Liberia (GoL) through the Ministry of Education to introduce policies that will address girls and women menstrual needs and ensure that girls stay in school during that period.
The students in the petition called the Government to also ensure that reusable sanitary pads are available in all public schools.
The students want Sexual Reproductive and Menstrual Reproductive health to be taught in public and private schools as a stand-alone topic.
The group also called on the government to ensure that all sanitary products are tax-free so as to promote girls retention in school and also ensure that all public schools have separate wash facility and bathrooms based on gender.
Reading the petition on behalf of the students,, Praise Alberta Lomel of the Paynesville Community High School, said the unavailability of affordable and hygienic protection for several girls across the country had resulted to them using unhygienic pads, rags, and cloths, something which, according to her, has exposed girls to the risks of infection.
According to Lomel, access to affordable reusable sanitary pads in Liberia will bring thousands of girls and women out of hiding and into classrooms and jobs.
“Many poorer girls skip school when they have their period or slyly drop out completely, a girl absence from school due to menstruation for four to six days of every twenty-eight circle uses minimal learning days,” Lomel explained.
She pointed out that addressing girls and women menstrual management needs could help girls in Liberia stay in school and improve their health.
Receiving the petition on behalf of the Ministry of Education (MoE), Assistant Minister for Basic and Secondary Education, Felecia Doe-Somah, said the MoE is working to ensure that the hygienic issues of girls in schools across the country are addressed.
“One of the first things we have done is to craft the girl’s education policy which has a provision in it for the protection of girls in the hygienic area; we have also shared the WASH protocol in all schools to ensure that we have gender sensitive facilities in all schools so that our girls can stay in school,” Doe-Somah explained.
She also indicated that the MoE has included girls menstrual days in the academic calendar in order to make school administrations aware that the Ministry has given priority to these days.
Menstrual Hygiene Day is an annual awareness day which is observed on May 28 to highlight the importance of good menstrual hygiene management.
The day was initiated by the German-based NGO WASH United in 2014 and aims to benefit women and girls worldwide.