The Sapphires Development Initiative sponsored a project implemented by Girl Up Sapphires on the 16th – 19th of May 2023. This project called Flow for Free was carried out in three South-Western states in Nigeria including Ogun, Oyo, and Kwara, and in 8 schools. These schools include St Leo’s Schools, Adigbe Abeokuta, Ogun State, Flora College, Ilorin, FUNAAB International School, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Union Baptist Grammar School, Tanke Ilorin, Emmanuel College, Oyo, ECWA Model College, Oyo, Eyinni High School, Oyo, and Baptist Model Secondary School, Challenge Ibadan, Oyo.
The Flow For Free project reached over 1,406 girls aged 10-19 years with the major aim of promoting menstrual health equity. To reiterate, TSDI is keen on achieving gender equality and quality education in rural areas, especially for the marginalized. However, Girl Up Sapphires is an initiative under Girl Up (a United Nations Foundation) and a community that promotes gender equality and bodily autonomy for adolescents and young females in Nigerian communities.
Thus, in commemoration of the World Menstrual Hygiene Day (May 28), the two organizations joined forces to advocate for menstrual health and hygiene, educate these girls on menstrual cycle, period poverty, menstrual hygiene products, and debunked menstrual health myths which led to stigmatization and stereotypes. Besides these, one major activity carried out during this project was distribution of menstrual hygiene products like the reusable pads with a series of question-and-answer session for all curious as to its usage.
According to the United Nations Population Fund, over half (57%) of girls in Nigeria have a poor menstrual hygiene. This is owing to period poverty, lack of menstrual health education, and a crippling menstrual stigmatization that plagues the Nigerian society, especially the rural areas. Previous interactions (Girl Up Sapphires online meeting) with some of these girls proved that menstrual stigma still pervades the society and unlike popular opinions, many young girls are “dying” in silence. It is key to remind ourselves at this point in this reading that menstruation is a highly essential part of a woman’s life as it affects her health, education, and happiness.
This is why the impact and outcome of the Flow For Free project is not just amazing but fulfilling for both organizations. More girls are aware and have access to reusable pads and are more confident that periods are no taboos. However, it does not stop there as more grounds are yet to be discovered and covered, and more stakeholders are yet to be deeply involved.