Dear President Bola Ahmed Tinubu,
I hope this letter finds you in good health and high spirits as you assume the esteemed position of President of Nigeria. I write to you today to address a pressing matter that requires urgent attention – menstrual health and its impact on girls’ access to education in our nation.
The Nigeria government has recognized the importance of providing sanitary pads to girls to enhance their access to education. It is crucial that you, as the new President, sign into law a policy that shifts the burden of covering the cost of periods from families and girls to the government. This significant step will alleviate the financial strain on families and ensure that every girl has access to the necessary menstrual hygiene products.
Additionally, I implore you to release a statement from your office outlining the government’s plans to distribute eco-friendly sanitary pads. Collaborating with civil societies and leveraging the expertise of tech startups utilizing Artificial Intelligence will enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of pad distribution. Allocating adequate funding for this initiative is essential to ensure its success.
In Nigeria, four out of five girls miss school because of their periods, and globally, millions of girls miss a substantial portion of the academic year due to a lack of access to menstrual hygiene tools. By acting, you can address this issue and prioritize menstrual health as a crucial aspect of girls’ education.
The proposed law will hold the presidency responsible for providing “free, sufficient, and quality sanitary towels” and ensuring a safe and environmentally sound method of disposal for girls in schools. Nigeria can follow in the footsteps of Kenya, which has been at the forefront of the menstrual hygiene revolution. A decade ago, Kenya eliminated the tax on sanitary products, making them more affordable and enabling more girls to stay in school.
In 2011, the Kenyan government allocated $3 million to distribute sanitary napkins to schools in low-income communities. While this progress is commendable, Nigeria faces its own unique challenges in reaching and educating girls about menstrual health. The United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization estimates that two million girls in Nigeria require menstrual hygiene support to fulfill the government’s commitment.
Poverty remains a significant obstacle, with over 42% of Nigeria’s population living in poverty, and 65% of women finding sanitary pads unaffordable. This makes it challenging to keep an adequate supply of menstrual products in schools. Many girls resort to using makeshift pads made from chicken feathers, cheap mattresses, or newspapers. It is imperative that we address this issue with compassion and urgency.
International recognition and awareness on menstrual health can play a vital role in supporting countries like Nigeria in implementing effective menstrual health education programs. By prioritizing young women and girls, we can empower them to reach their full potential. We can take inspiration from the Kenyan government’s success in providing pads in schools and strive to achieve the same for Nigerian girls.
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, I urge you to champion this cause and demonstrate your commitment to gender equality, education, and the well-being of our nation’s girls. By signing the proposed law and implementing comprehensive menstrual health programs, you will transform the lives of millions of girls and contribute to a brighter future for Nigeria.
Thank you for your attention to this critical matter. I have faith that under your leadership, Nigeria will become a beacon of progress in menstrual health and education.
Chaste Inegbedion- Mr. Padman
Chief Product Officer, Sanicle.us