The HAHA Beat: Why Menstrual Hygiene Education Needs to be Girl-Friendly

Check out why Health and Hygiene Officer Nadia thinks that menstrual education is not "girl-friendly" enough and how SHE is instigating for these changes at the school level:

"With the support of VSO Rwanda, SHE conducted menstrual health and hygiene awareness programs across the Ngoma District within the month of March.

In our Rwandan culture, as in other parts of the world, menstruation is still viewed as a taboo, making it difficult for parents, teachers and children comfortable to tackle the matter in details. Some parents would say nothing at all about menstruation or at the very least, would ask someone else to explain menstruation to their daughters, which has resulted in misinformation about menstruation.

Health and Hygiene Officer Nadia at one of our 8 awareness sessions in the Ngoma District. 
With all this confusion about how to properly manage their period, girls miss up to 3-5 school days each month, while their male colleagues proceed with their studies, thus making our young sisters, future mothers and leaders of Rwanda at risk of falling behind at school, having low marks, and not having the same achievements as their brothers.

Students therefore have to rely on teachers for menstrual hygiene education, but all they learn is about the biological changes that occur with the onset of menstruation. Unfortunately, menstrual hygiene management part is not covered within it. Girls, as well as boys, need to have that information, so they are prepared once menses does begin and to take it easy; and most importantly, to know that menstruation is NOT a disease or is something shameful! This was our overview when we lead these awareness workshops.

The fact is increased access to menstrual hygiene education is needed and it needs to be presented in a child and girl-friendly manner. If it’s not done in a girl-friendly approach, girls will continue to receive incorrect menstrual information. Some of the myths or incorrect information that I heard from the girls include:

"If you sleep with a man while menstruating, you will never have painful periods”


"If you have sex while menstruating, you will never get pregnant"

These girls’ voices are calling out for SHE support. They have the right to know that menstruation is not a disease or a curse as some people believe - it is a normal physiological process the body undergoes.That is why SHE is instigating for increased access to menstrual education and materials at the national level!

SHE is taking the lead to educate girls about MHM through their teachers and parents. Will you join us? Girls are demanding to 'know more!'

I extend gratitude to the Ngoma District and their schools; as a result we were able to provide our MHM awareness workshop to over 1100 students.
I am also most grateful to the girls and their teachers for talking frankly about menstruation in the school setting with us. Girls, we love you, and we believe you deserve to manage your menses healthy and hygienically."

Nadia Hitimana 
Health and Hygiene Officer"

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