Menstrual Hygiene Management: CAGEAD engages local officials and community leaders

By Bakah Derick

A one day workshop on menstrual hygiene management (MHM) for local authorities and community leaders has ended in Bamenda with a call for participations to commit themselves in addressing issues of menstruation and break the taboos around the subject. 
Participants and facilitators at the close of the training workshop 

Organised by the Center for Advocacy in Gender Equality and Action for Development (CAGEAD) in partnership with UN Women within the project "improving girl's educational attainment though proper MHM" project, the training on Wednesday 16 Febraury 2022 according to CAGEAD”s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Clotilda Andiensa afforded the participants the opportunity to reflect on best practices in educating young girls and women, safe menstrual hygiene management infrastructure as well as advocate for institutional framework for menstrual hygiene management in communities. 

According to Nain Yuh Mirable, Field coordinator for the project, stigmatization is common for menstruating girls in communities. Citing a study by UNESCO in 2014, Nain Yuh regretted that one in 10 girls in sub-Sahara Africa do not attend schools because of menstruation leading to about 20% of the school year loss for the girls. She admits that there could be other reasons why children may stay out of school like fees or sickness but insist that menstruation should not be one of them since it is just a natural phenomenon. 

For six months, the project will carry out activities in some five schools around Bamenda such as setting up of safe spaces, renovation and equipment of safe spaces with MHM supplies, training of teachers as MHM leaders, creation of MHM clubs, community engagement and distribution of dignity kits composed of sanitary towels, toilet soap, underwear, comb, backpack amongst others. 

Speaking on Human Rights in MHM, Social reproductive health rights activist, Ndema Irene established that with menstruation being part of a girl's health life, it makes it obligatory for those around her to ensure she has good health which is a right. She has recommended the provision of friendly socio cultural environment for menstrual hygiene, better training of health workers to be menstrual friendly, recognize menstrual health as key in the right to health for girls amongst others. 

Clotilda Andiensa Chief, CAGEAD CEO disclosed that the project targets not fewer than 2500 adolescent girls directly in the North West and about 10.000 nationwide including East and Far North of Cameroon being pilot regions. She has invited the participants to accompany her organization and UN Women to give dignity and rights to girls. 

With findings revealing challenges of water supply, availability and adaptability of public toilets alongside stigmatization, it is hoped that the project with the help of local authorities and community leaders will provide a safe haven for adolescent girls in the chosen areas. Like other stakeholders from government ministries, school administrators, Community and organization leaders, representatives of local  Councils present have admitted that issues of menstrual hygiene were not fully part of their hygiene and sanitation activities. They have committed to ensure that their hygiene and sanitation departments work to improve toilets in their municipalities. 
Created in 2001 and legalized in 2011, CAGEAD works in areas of Sexual Reproductive health rights, Women, leadership and peacebuilding, economic empowerment and Youth leadership and peer education.