Thursday, May 30, 2024

More than 20,000 people benefit from Girls’ Pride training on menstrual hygiene

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By: Fatou Kebbeh

Girls’ Pride Gambia, an organization striving to improve menstrual poverty in the country, has educated over twenty thousand (20,000) boys, girls, men, and women on sexual reproductive health rights in The Gambia and beyond.

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Fatoumatta Kassama, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the organization who holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing and reproductive health, explained what her inspiration was to start such an initiative.

“I was born and raised in a low-income family in a community where no one talked about issues that affect women and girls.

“Twenty years ago [2002], while I was in junior school, period poverty affected my education. I used to miss 3-5 days out of school during my period due to a lack of sanitary pads,” she narrated.

She added that in those days, she had little or no knowledge of how to take care of herself while on her period.

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“I was bullied for always staining my uniforms and clothes with menstrual blood. I always had urogenital infections after my period.

“Fifteen years later, that is in [2017], I realized that period poverty is still affecting women and girls’ education, health, and economic status in The Gambia,” Kassama told The Fatu Network.

Girls’ Pride is said to have distributed over fifteen thousand (15,000) eco-friendly and reusable sanitary pads among adolescent girls and young women in The Gambia.

Ms Kassama stressed that the help from her family and close friends has impacted the lives of a lot of people in the country especially those in rural Gambia.

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She also participated in the Mandela Washington Fellowship program, and through networking, she learned about reusable sanitary pads and how they are effective in addressing period poverty and keeping girls in school during their periods.

“This was how Girls’ Pride Gambia started,” she added.

According to her, they are not only empowering women but also encouraging gender equality. This is why boys and men are included in most of their training.

They also look at issues of gender-based violence, female genital mutilation, capacity-building training, mental health and well-being, teenage pregnancy, early marriage, breast cancer etc.

Fatoumatta said training women on menstrual health is important because menstruation is a natural biological process that affects millions of girls and women worldwide.

She added that a lack of knowledge about menstruation can lead to fear, shame, and stigma.

According to her, proper education help girls understand their bodies, normalize menstruation and manage their periods with confidence and dignity.

Girls’ Pride Gambia recruits women and girls from low-income families, divorcees, and survivors of sexual and gender-based violence, child marriage, and female genital mutilation as community volunteers and empowers them with the right knowledge and skills they need to become advocates in their local communities.

“One of the main challenges we are currently facing is financial challenges. We are not able to scale up our solution, and community impact projects to very remote and underserved villages in rural Gambia because of limited resources.”

She highlighted that access to adequate and sustainable funding has been a challenge in the area of women’s empowerment and advancing women’s health.

Fatoumatta added that, with adequate financial support, they can sew pads and donate them to the less privileged or train women and girls on how to make their own pads, saying this can help address period poverty in The Gambia.

One of their objectives is to keep girls in schools during their periods through the provision of menstrual health and hygiene management education and the distribution of reusable, and biodegradable sanitary pads.

Girls’ Pride Gambia is a hybrid organization that started in 2017 as a result of period poverty affecting girls’ education in The Gambia.

It provides sustainable, eco-friendly, and reusable sanitary pads for women and girls from low-income families.

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