WaterAid has lamented that one third of Nigeria’s 80.2million female population (2006 census) do not have access to safe toilets during their menstrual periods, exposing them to risky and undignified practices.
In a release issued today to mark Menstrual Hygiene Day, the organisation said the widespread lack of access to toilets and water in the world has a devastating impact on girls and women leading to drop out from schools, when young girls reach puberty, and stigma.
“In developing countries like Nigeria, many women do not have access to sanitary products to manage their menstrual hygiene and have to use items like rags, newspaper or leaves instead, said Barbara Frost, WaterAid’s Chief Executive Officer.
“Every day, 800 million women have their period, and yet most of us consider it an embarrassing and taboo subject. There are even elaborate euphemisms to avoid saying the word ‘period’. Menstruation is an important women’s issue. One in three women around the world do not have access to a toilet during their periods and millions more suffer discrimination because of beliefs that they are ‘contaminated’ or ‘impure’.More needs to be done so that every woman and girl has access to water, sanitation and hygiene by 2030.
In Nigeria it is believed that a touch from a menstruating woman will cause milk to curdle, plants to die and a mirror to lose its brightness. In Nepal, the belief that menstrual bleeding makes women ‘impure’ has led many to be banned from entering their own houses or interacting with family members while menstruating. And in the UK, many still believe that swimming during menstruation makes women more prone to attacks by sharks.
Clarisse Baghnyan, Coordinator of WaterAid’s Regional Learning Centre for Sanitation said:“We continue to call for a drastic shift in our thinking and attitude so that we can bring an end to the stigma that still surrounds menstruation. We must ensure that our girls have decent and separate toilet facilities in schools along with hand-washing facilities otherwise their health is put at risk and they are likely to miss or drop out of school rather than face humiliation because of a lack of privacy. “It’s time to start talking about this issue. By talking about periods, we can help normalise this natural process and help girls and women live healthier and more dignified lives.”