16 YEAR OLD GIRL MENTORING OTHER GIRLS – LAUNCHES AN “ALL GIRLS MUST GO TO SCHOOL PROJECT ”

In Nigeria, it is estimated that 23% of women aged 15-19years have begun childbearing and 32% of teenagers in rural areas have become young mothers, according to the Demographic Health Survey of 2013. One of the focal points of discussion at the just concluded family planning conference in Nigeria which took place on the 3rd – 6th of December, 2018 in Nigeria is the prevention of teenage pregnancy and promotion of adolescent reproductive health rights.

Youth and Adolescents were given the opportunity to speak up about their health needs so policymakers can put in place services to meet these needs. As part of efforts to make visible the works of young people making an impact in their communities, 5 young people shared their innovative work as it relates to reproductive health needs of adolescents and young persons. The youngest of them, to give a pitch about her work was 16 years old, Peace Ayo Adegbola. It was heartwarming seeing this young determined girl doing something to make the lives of others better.

Peace giving a pitch about her work with girls in her community.

Peace Adegbola is a role model to other adolescent girls in her community. She equips girls with life skills and information necessary to curb teenage pregnancy. She shared the story of her journey into becoming girls advocate in this interview with me.

A.A: Tell us your name

Peace: My name is Peace Ayo Adegbola

A.A: So are you a student?

Peace: Yes I’m a student. I just wrote my WAEC, waiting for admission into the university. I am a girl advocate and I’m 16 years old.

A.A: What steered you up in that direction?

Peace & Her Dad

Peace: My daddy works with Society for family health and so he goes to rural communities to educate these young girls about the importance of family planning. Sometimes he normally takes me along. When I go to these communities I find that the majority of these adolescent girls are not in school. Boys are going to school and a majority of the girls are at home. I was just 10 years old so I started asking questions, became anxious and wanted to do something about this. I felt like if a 10year old girl Like me is outspoken, I wanted other girls to be too and I decided to be an advocate. And my dad inspired me, the communities I have been to and what the girls are passing through.

A.A: That was how you started the girls club?

Peace sharing her story in a quick interview with Adebisi

Peace: The girls club actually started as a self-esteem session with the girls. I launched a project on “All Girls must go to School” which targeted girls that are not in school to ensure that these girls go to school. We have about 200 girls are now in school as a result and come this September more girls will be enrolled. I needed a sustainability plan to keep these girls in school. I found out that something so simple as self-esteem makes them drop out of school. So I created a small group where I talk to these young girls. At first, it was just the girls we were sponsoring to school.

A.A: How are you funding this sponsorship?

Peace: Strong Enough Girls are my key partners, Youth Hub Africa, and so many partners and some individuals that buy into the idea.

A.A: Going forward where do you see this? Are you intending to fully make a career of development work?

Peace: Yes! Because my partner, who happens to be my dad, and I currently jointly own an organization. It is something I want to do for life; it’s something that even though I do other things, this is one thing I will never leave. This is service to humanity and girls like me. I believe so much in their potentials.

A.A: Your advice for girls, adults and especially parents.

Peace: My advice to young girls is that there is time for everything; take it one step at a time. And if you have made some mistakes don’t use it to judge yourself or pull yourself back. The thing about making mistakes or falling down is for you to know the right way to take. My advice to parents is that they should have a close relationship with their kids and to actually open up. Tell them about sexual reproductive issues. Talk to your child about hygiene, menstrual hygiene. Do not code things and give wrong information, for example, say that “if a boy touches you, you will get pregnant, No! Tell them that it is sex that gets a girl pregnant. Prepare them so they will make the right choices.

Adolescent and youth health needs is a must attend to.

Someone mentored Peace Aydegbola right and now she, in turn, has become a mentor and role model to other girls in her community, nipping teenage pregnancy in the bud and inspiring girls to go to and finish school.

One person can make a huge difference

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant-@debisibusybeemedia, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Controller Programs (FRCN) Catch me on Twitter – @DebisiBusybee, Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

The Public hearing of the Oyo State Family Planning, Reproductive Health and Maternal Services Bill, 2017

According to World Health Organization(WHO) Sexual and reproductive health and rights encompass efforts to eliminate preventable, maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity, to ensure quality sexual and reproductive health services including contraceptive services, and to address sexually transmitted Infections (STI) and cervical cancer, violence against women and girls and sexuality and reproductive health needs of adolescents.

The Public hearing of the Oyo State Family Planning, Reproductive Health and Maternal Services Bill, 2017 held on Wednesday, 17th October 2018 at the Western Hall, Oyo State House of Assembly Secretariat, Ibadan.

 The basic reason for a public hearing is to elevate a democratic procedure for adopting laws involving the people in lawmaking and achieving a more complete implementation of the oversight functions, increase transparency of the work of the legislators – Rt. Hon. Joshua Olagunju Ojo Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly.

Rt. Hon. Joshua Olagunju Ojo, Speaker of the Oyo State House of Assembly and other legislators at the public hearing.

The Bill had gone through the 1st and 2nd reading and is on its way to been passed into law. The Speaker of the Oyo state House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Joshua Olagunju alongside other lawmakers, top government officials, the Attorney General –Barr. Seun Abimbola, and commissioner for Justice and other stakeholders from, Ministry of health, The Nigerian Bar Association, Medical practitioners, NGOs, religious organizations, Association of traditional birth attendants, Civil societies, and others attended the public hearing in order to make their contributions towards improving the Bill.

Hon. S.O Okunlola, the Chairman, Committee on Health in his welcome address said that the aim of the Bill is to promote and protect the right of people of Oyo state especially women to enable them to have access to reproductive health and adequate maternity services. He stated further that, “for any reasonable government, the health of citizens should be a priority as such the health policy of government at federal and state and local government levels should be in tandem with international best practices”.

Deliberations at the public hearing were aimed at having a sustainable framework for reproductive health and maternal care services in Oyo state through a legislation.

The Bill is a private members bill which was sponsored and brought to the attention of the legislators who received it with open arms. It is intended to complement the efforts of the executive arm of government in the state in the area of providing quality healthcare to the people in the state. Hon. Okunlola assured all stakeholders present at the public hearing that the memoranda compiled and submitted will be painstakingly looked into in order to come out with an implementable document.

A cross section of stakeholders at the public hearing.

The Import of the Bill was presented by Hon. Mrs. B.O Oladeji, Chairperson, Committee on Women Affairs, Community Development, Social Welfare, and Poverty Alleviation.

“It has been observed that most women do not have access to adequate reproductive health and maternal care services in the state, as a result, many women suffer complications during childbirth which in turn contributes to increased maternal mortality. This bill intends to promote and protect the rights of women in having access to adequate reproductive health and maternal care services in the state. It also intends to put in place a structure for upholding standards and monitoring maternal care services provided in the state and Local government levels. It intends to promote women’s health, safe motherhood and reduce maternal mortality and morbidity rate amongst our women. Sections in the bill provide for the establishment of committees to monitor the level of antenatal and postnatal care as well as activities of health care providers in the state and local governments. Clause 8 of the bill provides major standards and regulations of which health care providers need to comply with and there are equally penalties for contraventions. It is believed that this bill will go a long way in improving the health of women in terms of putting in place regulations and standard for monitoring, provision of family planning and provision of safe healthcare services in Oyo state”.

One of the stakeholders the State Team Lead (NURHI) Oyo state, Mrs. Stella Akinso in her contribution to the memoranda had this to  say:

“Women of reproductive of age by definition starts from 15 -49 which means young people who are sexually active have been factored in. Young people need access to quality family planning and maternity services. This Bill will become ineffective without budgetary allocation and release for the implementation. There is also the need for the provision of adequate human capital (skilled and trained healthcare providers/birth attendants) to be able to implement all the things stated in the bill”.

Mrs. Akinso advised that after the Bill gets passed it should be translated into the local language so that everyone can have access to the information therein. More than anything she said, there is the need for a total overhaul of health facility and system in Oyo state.

The maternal mortality rate in Nigeria stands at 645 per 100,000 births and in Oyo state 262 women out of 100, 000 that deliver will die. That translates to mean that about 3 women will die out of 1000 births.

This is unacceptable as No Woman Should Die Giving Birth to Another Life and this is the essence of this bill. Mrs. Akinso ended her contribution to the memoranda with these words, “I do hope that this bill will be adequately funded, monitored and implemented”.

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant-@debisibusybeemedia, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Controller Programs (FRCN) Catch me on Twitter – @DebisiBusybee, Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

The Girl Child, An Endangered Specie in the 21st Century Nigeria: Public Lecture & Book Launch by Fill in the Gaps Outreach

The utmost responsibility of any nation is to provide security for her citizens – Prof. Stella Odebode.

As the world marked another “Day of the Girl Child” on 11th October 2018, there were many activities organized by individuals, organizations, and groups to draw attention to the challenges beguiling and preventing girls from achieving their potentials. It was also to bring to fore practices that harm the girl child’s physical and psychological well-being and to seek solutions to ending these inhuman treatments such as rape, sexual violence, abduction and kidnap, sex slavery, early marriage, lack of equal rights to education and opportunities, domestic abuse, child slavery and Female Genital Mutilation(FGM).

One of such organization, “The Fill in the Gap Outreach(NGO)”, brought together various stakeholders; students, parents and guardians, policy makers, Community leaders, development partners, and the media to commemorate the International Day of the Girl Child through a public lecture. The CEO, Princess Aderonke Olajide in her opening remarks said that one of the organization’s goal is premised on filling the gaps created by unexpected pregnancy which occurs in the life of some girls for whatever reason. Fill in the Gaps provide support for such girls through ensuring safe delivery of their babies and ensuring they go back to school/learn a skill.
An interesting, informative and eye-opening lecture titled, “The Girl Child as an Endangered Species in the 21st Century Nigeria was delivered by Prof. Stella Odebode, Director Gender Mainstreaming office, University of Ibadan.

A cross of school girls present at the Fill in the Gap Outreach Public lecture

A few take away points from the lecture:

  • Globally 60% of girls are denied education as opposed to boys who are 40%.
  • Rape and sexual violence is a global phenomenon that needs to be continually addressed. Students are sexually molested by teachers, headmasters and other people who are supposed to be carers.
  • Perpetrators are hardly prosecuted which promotes the culture of silence.
  •  Parents need to be very sensitive and conscious of any signs that anyone is attempting to abuse their wards particularly extended family members living with them.
  • Prevalence of Child marriage and young mothers: According to a study carried out by Prof. Stella Odebode in Igbo Ora, Oyo state there is a prevalence of young mothers ages 11, 12 and above.
  • There is an increased incidence of school dropout and unwanted pregnancy in girls.
  • 1 in 4 children is reported as having an incidence of sexual violence.
  •  In some parts of Nigeria, 43% of girls are married off before age 18. In some other parts, 15% are married off before age 15.
  • Key ailments of girls exposed to early marriage are VVF, Anemia, High Blood pressure, premature births and even death in some cases.

Solutions

The Chairman of the occasion – Dr. Mike Omotosho , PDG, D9125, AKS Rotary International, dressed in his Ghanian royal title in a pix pose with the convener & CEO, Fill in the Gaps Outreach – Princess Aderonke Olajide
  • All maternity and orphanage homes should be dully registered to nib in the board criminal activities that expose children particularly girls to any form of sexual exploitation and abuse.
  • Speak up and do something about that your neighbor who is abusing his/her housemaid or child. If you notice something isn’t right and a life is endangered, do not mind your business. Remember that it could be you or your child.

You are standing under the shade of a tree because someone planted it – Warren Buffet

Dignitaries at the Lecture

Dr. Mike Omotosho, PDG, D9125, AKS Rotary International – Chairman.
Her Excellency, Omolewa Yetunde Ahmed- First Lady of Kwara State – Special guest of Honour
Prof. Stella Odebode – Guest Lecturer
Mr. Oluwarotimi O. Martins – MD/CEO Midway Airlines – Chief Launcher
Chief Mrs. Ranti Koiki – CEO, Fawzy Hotels, Nigeria – Guest of Honour
Alh. Mohammed Bello – Zonal Director, FRCN Ibadan Zonal station – Guest of Honor
Asiwaju Abdlrazaq Shittu – President/Chairman, Skysite Offshore Access (WA)Ltd – Father of the Day
Princess Olabisi Sangodoyin

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant-@debisibusybeemedia, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Controller Programs (FRCN) Catch me on Twitter – @DebisiBusybee, Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

Looking Back at My Adolescent Years – Creating Safe Places for Young People

A safe place connotes a conducive and enabling environment to be yourself and pursue your goals and dreams without fear or any inhibition. We all need that safe place to blossom and flourish.

At a Youth Mentoring program by Beehyve Initiative.

What does a “safe place mean to a young person? This takes me down memory lane to my adolescent years. Look I’m not that old *wink… Lol😀.

As a teenager while growing up I and my sisters – we are four by the way, had more male friends than girls. The percentage was 90-10%… I am serious here…. So you can imagine the “fear & terror”, this must have brought to my parents… Hahaha. As African parents or any parent at all there is that extra carefulness you adopt when it comes to raising girls. Often you will hear parents especially mom’s like mine say something like this : “Eyin omo yi, e ma doju timi o!”. Meaning ‘Don’t bring shame to the family “, and by that they mean” do not get pregnant o“! “Becareful with boys”. Are you following my gist? So four teenage girls in the hands of my parents was a huge task in their minds.

Yearly we would organize our special Boxing day party for all the teenagers in our neighborhood and Youth group in church and we would have a hard time trying to get more girls to come to our party. I was the chairman organizing committee leader and sometimes I will hope and pray that my father will not adjust his glasses to access why we had more boys in attendance… “poor me”.

But you know what, admist all the adolescent age drama with friends and parents I felt safe and was able to express myself. I don’t know who taught my parent this wisdom I am about to share but it worked!

Instead of policing us and putting all our activities under a microscope my parents decided to have an open door policy. Our friends whether males or females were allowed to visit our home and they even get to gist with my parents. My Dad will engage us all in a friendly discussion and soon we would all be laughing. My friends back then thought my dad and mum were cool. While dad engages us in a gist, mum will be busy serving snacks or any food available in the pot. Unknown to us it was a strategy to learn more about who our friends were; possibly investigate what we have been up to. Mostly for us, we felt free to bring our friends home and be ourselves.

Now did we ever experienced that parent versus adolescent clashes? Of course plenty… Lol. However our parents open door policy was a check mate for us. Anytime Dad begins to raise some extra questions about a particular friend we were quick to understand that something wasn’t right because he hardly complained about our friends. So without having to breath down our necks, I and my siblings always found ways to cut off such friendship. I found out that I could speak to my mum intimately about my crushes and issues with the opposite sex.

Every time we have a chance to talk about our adolescent years at family reunions, it is usually with fond memories. 💑 Of course life is never perfect but we thoroughly enjoyed those years.

So back to my gist about creating Safe Places for Young People, I say it is doable. Mostly adults have the major responsibility of making young persons feel safe. We can do this by creating an enabling environment where young people can:
1. Be free to express themselves.
2. Have a listening ear who will be there for him or her.
3. Have a loving home environment.
4. Have a space and opportunities that allows them access to information about life: their wellbeing and reproductive health.
5. Give room for them to bring to the table their questions about issues that trouble people in their age group without fear of being judged.

The International Youth Day is celebrated every 12th of August yearly and this year’s theme is “Creating Safe Places for Young People”.

As a parent are you intentional about creating a safe place for your adolescents? Instead of adopting the “body guard” approach create an atmosphere that allows your children to express themselves. Build a relationship that gives room for conversations that will help guide them in making informed and right choices.

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Principal Producer (FRCN) Catch me on Twitter @DebisiBusybee Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

 

A-DAY OUTREACH ON FAMILY PLANNING SERVICES (FP) In commemoration of World Population Day at Oje Market, Ibadan

A view of Oje Market on Tuesday 10th July 2018 Photo by @debisibusybeeMedia
NURHI Community mobilizers sensitizing market men & women about the ongoing free family planning service outreach. Photo by @debisibusybeeMedia

At the Oje Market bustling with activities where market women display their wares and goods to sell to customers, the atmosphere was a mixed ambiance of buying and selling noise and drums with dancing.

Something was up at the market on this day. Right at the center of the market close to the “Babaloja” (Chairman of the market) tents were mounted up and chairs arranged to receive beneficiaries of the free family planning services been provided for the market women and anyone who was interested in accessing this service.

As one of the media crew who was present to cover this exciting program I observed that a few women were already sitting waiting patiently as the health workers and FP service providers set things up putting in place products to serve these dear women who keep working hard to make a living and taking care of their family members. Other women hawking bread; food vendors and so on dropped their wares to take advantage of the moment. I knew juicy stories were waiting for me here but most of all it was great seeing these low income earning women get the opportunity to make a decision about their reproductive life.

The slogan for the outreach-

Family Planning is Life Planning: Know About it, Accept it, Access it.

Nigeria currently ranks  number 7 in the world population. In a 2017 report earlier by UN- Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) the country is expected to be the the third most populous nation in the world! Nigeria with a projected population of 187million is expected to grow to about 250million. This is alarming given the nation’s economic indices and GDP growth which is not commesurate to cater for provision of basic amenities and sustainable livelihood for citizens. The government need to plan for the future by putting in place measures to control population explosion that will further impact negatively on our economy.

Meet two of the beneficiaries as they share their FP story and onwhy they showed up at the outreach:

Mrs Idowu and her baby after taking her free injectable family planning method. @debisibusybeeMedia

Mrs. Idowu Olaide – FP Service beneficiary – A tailor 
I am at Oje Market to access the free family planning services been provided here today. I became a user of FP because my older sisters who are also mothers are users of family planning. This encouraged me to also become a user when I began to have my children and It has been three years now since I started using FP. I am on the 3 monthly injectables Family planning method. So today I came for a follow-up visit to have another dose of my FP method. I have enjoyed the method I use. Often I tell other women to also go and access family planning because it has many benefits. It prevents a woman from getting pregnant when she is still nursing a baby

Mrs Saheed after collecting her FP Pills in an interview with Journalists. @debisibusybeeMedia

Mrs. Saheed Suliat 
I became educated about family planning and its benefits through awareness on the radio and then at the clinic nurses and health workers talk to us about it. I have been a user of the Pills family method even before I got married. Today I am here to access free FP services and therefore I was able to get my pills for free here at this outreach in the market
This particular beneficiary had a misconception that FP prevents sexually transmitted diseases. It is important to note that only Condom has a double protection which is preventing unplanned pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

Some of the Facilitators of the Outreach share their thoughts :

Mrs. Victoria Segilola -Program Officer ARFH
This outreach is all about bringing the family planning services to market women who find it difficult to leave their business to go family planning to access services. So we have brought the free services to their doorsteps and attending to clients does not take more than 10 minutes and then they can go back to their shops. Team members and mobilizers are all over the market sensitizing the market women and men.

Mrs. Segilola has been an advocate for family planning for over 40 years.

I am happy at the progress we have made in reducing maternal mortality rate according to statistics. This the basis of all efforts at encouraging more women to take on family planning. And it is heartwarming to see that all collaborative efforts have greatly improved peoples uptake of FP.
However, these women need the support of their husband and government. More Funds investment by the government will improve these low earning women to have free access to family planning services.

Mrs. Stella Akinso State Team Lead, NURHI Oyo State
We are here at the Oje Market to let people know that family planning uptake is not by cohesion it is voluntary. Promoting the right of every human being to access FP particularly Women of Reproductive years
Right to information and quality services about family planning that will empower them to make the right decisions
Data shows that there is high knowledge but low acceptance of FP especially with rural and urban-rural women who still need their husband’s permission to take up Family planning services. We are encouraging spousal communication but also want people to know that it is the right of every individual of reproductive age to seek and to access family planning services.

As we celebrate another world population day it is imperative to understand that it is the right of every citizen to make informed choices about planning their lives in order to achieve a more productive life.

In our efforts to combat poverty we must pay attention to our population and be sure that we have enough resources to cater for our growing number.

Organizers:
National Population Commission in collaboration with development partners ( The Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative(NURHI 2); Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN); Association of Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH); Oyo State Agency for the Control of AIDS (OYSACA); and National Orientation Agency (NOA).

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Principal Producer (FRCN) 
Catch me on Twitter @DebisiBusybee
Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

What You Must Know Before Getting Pregnant #safemotherhood

Media visit to NURHI 72 hour makeover PHCs in Ibadan. Mrs Elegbeleye Atinuke (Senior CHEW) in an FP counseling session with a mother – Mrs Lamidi Rukayat. Media group was graciously allowed to witness the session with client’s permission.

What you know can help you make informed choices. The problem is sometimes we do not have access to the necessary information to help achieve a quality life and improved economic power.

An information shocked I and participants present at a Media Family Planning advocacy Roundtable meeting organized by Development Communications Network(DEVCOMS) supported by The Nigerian Urban Reproductive Health Initiative(NURHI). I have always felt that ectopic pregnancies occur only in the fallopian tube but at this meeting, we heard that a woman was reported to have actually carried to term a baby that developed in her abdomen. The facilitator Dr. Tunde Olatunji explained further that the abdomen is that place which houses the womb, stomach, liver, kidney etc for those of us not medically inclined. So rest easy the abdomen is not the same as the stomach where food is digested.

According to medical reports ectopic pregnancies rarely do survive however It was possible for this woman to have her baby grow in her abdomen and termed instead of her womb. Probably early detection and close monitoring by skilled and well trained medical personnel. Imagine if she had delayed going early to register for antenatal care! The ectopic pregnancy growing in her abdomen would not have been discovered on time which could have been fatal for her and the unborn child. You can read up more about Abdominal pregnancy and the threat it poses to  a woman.

It is very important therefore that every woman, expectant or a would be mother be informed about preconception, antenatal and postnatal care available to them.

In lay man’s terms, ectopic pregnancy is when the sperm fertilizes the egg of a woman outside the womb. This means the embryo gets implanted and begins to develop outside the womb. Usually, ectopic pregnancies are flushed out because it is high risk to the health and life of a mother.

According to an article written by the American Pregnancy Association, known risk factors for ectopic pregnancies include:

• Previous abdominal/pelvic surgery
• Several induced abortions
• Pelvic inflammatory disease
• Maternal age of 33 -44 years

Knowledge is like a light bulb in a person’s head which sheds light on an issue. @debisibusybee

A few take away from Dr. Tunde Olatunji’s lecture on Improving Maternal Health

  1.  Preconception care involves providing adequate education about what pregnancy means to a woman’s health. Would be mothers should be encouraged to take care of themselves, eat right and stay healthy. This will prepare their body for the challenges that come with conception
  2. The health of a woman during pregnancy, at birth and postpartum(after delivery), is of crucial importance.
    Register early enough for antenatal care. This will give the pregnant woman to have access to education about what to eat, tests and immunizations required for expectant mothers; need to rest in between births and not have frequent deliveries etc.
    – Deliveries should be carried out by skilled birth attendants and health personnel.
    – Infection if not diagnosed early can make a woman who delivered safely to fall ill. And this can be a threat to her life.
    – Postnatal care provides information about breastfeeding and when to start feeding the child with other types of foods; immunization dozes for newborns; and when it is safe to have another child.

The first 24 hours after delivery critical for mothers and newborns. 2/3 of all maternal deaths occur during the postnatal period. – Dr. Olatunji

3. Grandmas and mothers-in-law to be educated about old practices that can be harmful to the wellbeing of mother and newborn. Example massaging the umbilical cord with a hot cloth heated on a lantern.

4. The burden of maternal mortality is an important input to health decision-making. Skilled health personnel are inadequate in health facilities; where we ought to have 15-17 personnel there are only 5 -6 skilled workers.

The government needs to invest in health care in order to prevent depletion of its populace and reduce productive manpower.

Family Planning services should also be budgeted for as it has been reported that this helps reduce maternal death by 40%

Life is precious and the one who is the vehicle that conveys life should not die while trying to achieve this. Every life counts and matters. – @debisibusybee

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Principal Producer (FRCN) 
Catch me on Twitter @DebisiBusybee
Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

Pay Attention To Her #PATH

When you go shopping for your sanitary towel do you insist that the shop owner put it in a black polythene bag all in the bid to keep your purchase a secret? If you’ve ever done this raise your hands 🙌 no one will see you 😊. Yours sincerely is guilty as charged too! Now that I think about this as I begin to type this post I realize that there is this general feeling of embarrassment or shame when it comes to menstruation. In fact, if a guy stumbles on your sanitary pad while ransacking your bag by mistake; he will apologize profusely for invading your privacy.

But really in your opinion should girls and women be embarrassed about menstruation or sanitary pads? Should boys and men know about the menstrual circle of women so that no one will feel the need for embarrassment? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

As a mother, I am already talking to my 11year old daughter about her body and menstruation. She has seen me use sanitary pads and I have shown her how to even stick it on her underwear. Already we are talking about hygiene while menstruating. Incidentally, also my son gets to ask questions about this. At least he knows what a sanitary pad looks like and what it is meant for 😉.  Now, some girls are not that privileged to have someone talk to them early enough about their menstrual circle and how to go about being comfortable with this normal occurrence in the female gender. Many adults/parents even emphasize the “embarrassing” attitude of a girl’s menstruation. Where I come from mothers will warn their girls seriously about not leaving their sanitary pads lying around even the unused one.

The other issue to menstruation challenges is lack of access to affordable and hygienic sanitary pads for some girls who come from a background with low means. My very first post Why Femininematerz?   which inspired this blog takes a look at how some girls in communities skip school whenever they are menstruating basically because they cannot afford sanitary pads. In one community in Uganda girls use corn husks… Really breaks my heart.

It is, therefore, a delight to meet another person who alongside her team is demystifying menstruation and promoting hygiene and access to free sanitary pads for school girls. Dr. Kelechi Okoro founder of Heal For Africa Initiative and her group of volunteers have recently taken this message to school girls.

Below is an excerpt sharing information about the launch of a project advocating for the need to Pay Attention to Girls, as put together by Charles Osagie, The Project Manager HFAI. It was an interesting read for me.

HEAL FOR AFRICA INITIATIVE donates free pads and school materials to 300 girls, advocates for the empowerment of The Girl Child.

 

HEAL For Africa Initiative, a Nongovernmental organization known for their advocacy in the area of health, quality livelihood, empowerment and education especially for the girl child has successfully flagged off another project called Pay Attention To Her (PATH).

According to the Founder, Dr. Kelechi Okoro, she said this project will focus on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of girls and women, reorienting and enlightening them about all female health issues. The PATH project has taken off with menstrual hygiene education and distribution of free sanitary pads and hygiene products for secondary schools.

Dr. Okoro, speaking at the launch with over 300 girls at Al Ansar Secondary School, New Layout in Lokoja, the medical expert espoused on the ills of seeing menstruation by young girls as disgraceful, shameful and dirty.

She acknowledged that young school girls are having limited access to affordable sanitary materials thereby making them use unhygienic options that increases their risk of having infections that may affect their reproduction in future. She thoroughly educated them on self-confidence and self-awareness too.

“We need to let our girls know that whatever sanitary method they use while menstruating, must be hygienic, and that they should not feel ashamed during their Period,” Okoro said.

She also recommended that the Ministry of Agriculture look into production of reusable biodegradable eco sanitary pads made from agricultural materials, saying it would be more hygienic, safer and affordable than the disposable ones.

“This sensitization and training are going to be a continuous program that will cut across schools in Kogi, Nigeria, and Africa. We are positive that the PATH project is going to be a huge success.

“Period is a thing of pride, you don’t have to be ashamed of it, it is everybody’s business. We need everybody to show support for it because it is important for health and nation-building.

Several top government functionaries and seasoned keynote speakers were on ground to impact on the program. Amongst them was the Chairman Board of Trustees of HEAL For Africa who doubles as the Executive Director of Tiny Beating Hearts Initiative. Mrs. Petra Akinti Onyegbule inspired the participants to become self-confident and dissuaded them from being sober and sad when they find themselves menstruating especially for the first time especially when mistakes of being stained occurs during this period. She spoke extensively on “Empowering the Girl Child and its Role in Nation Building”.

In attendance were some policymakers: the Secretary to the Kogi State Government, Mrs. Ayoade Folashade Arike(Ph.D.), Dr. Attah Ahmed, the Special Adviser on Health to Kogi State Governor and Mrs. Musa Mimi Sandra, the Senior Special Assistant for Women and Children Development to Kogi State Governor.

The program was wrapped up with goodwill messages from Queen Sarah Yusuf, the Publisher Xera Magazine, Miss Aliyu Rufia, the Teen Ambassador of the PATH Project and Principal of the host school, Alhaji Gimba Ibrahim.

The Coordinator of the Not Too Young To Run Bill, Umar DanAssabe Mohammed also lends his support to this movement.

Let’s help girls get comfortable with their menstrual circle days. No shame in menstruation! Support girls in your community by giving or advocating for free sanitary Pad donations /access to affordable ones. – Adebisi 

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer
Catch me on Twitter @DebisiBusybee
Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com