BY MAVIS NISHIMURA PODOKOLO
ON Monday, a packed crowd at Maranatha hall witnessed the occasion of the Menstrual Hygiene Day, which aims to create awareness and leverage action on the issues that impact the health and education of girls.
Speaking on the occasion yesterday, UNICEF WASH specialist Mrs Mamita Bora Thakkar this programme was organised purposely for schools to be aware of menstrual hygiene management (MHM) and how best they could provide WASH facilities to help girls manage menstruation with safety and dignity using safe hygienic materials.
She said addressing the issue of menstrual hygiene in Solomon Islands is an issue for adolescent girls for whom MHM is significant in terms of health, well-being and educational opportunity.
“Yet the issues of Menstrual Hygiene Management in Solomon Islands still remain covered in silence due to cultures, beliefs and traditions which leads its invisibility in education programmes and lacks prioritisation in planning, implementation and monitoring.
“Hence it is essential for administrator’s policy makers, political leaders, community members, teachers, girls and boys to speak of the challenges, promote a culture of openness and acceptance,” said Thakkar.
On the same occasion Mr Ambrose Malefoasi on behalf of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development said many of the challenges faced by girls and women globally with regards to this issue are also faced by Solomon Islands girls.
“While we need to work towards targeted solution to address the multiple barriers, one of the first steps required is to start a conversation around the issue, to break the silence and the secrecy that surrounds the topic.
“In doing so, schools provide the most appropriate platform to integrate MHM and equipping adolescents’ girls in schools with adequate information and skills on menstrual hygiene and having separate toilets, water and soap in schools removes major obstacles to girls’ attendance in schools,” he said.
The event was jointly hosted by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development and Solomon Islands Government.
Present yesterday were representatives from UNICEF, MEHRD, Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS), Ministry of Women Youth Children and Family Affairs (MWYCFA), schools in Honiara, bilateral agencies and donors.