Gbenga Odunsi writes on the challenges many underprivileged Nigerian girls face in having access to sanitary pads for their menstrual cycle. In this exclusive piece, Odunsi highlights the high price of the commodity; the many items ladies use as alternatives to sanitary pads; and what a non-governmental organization is doing to combat period poverty in Nigeria.
On a sunny Saturday morning, several girls in Ajegunle area of Lagos state are seated at the balcony of an aged building, to listen to a lecture on menstrual hygiene, in an outreach organized by Sanitary Aid Initiative — a nongovernmental organization established to address the needs Nigerian girls who do not have access to sanitary pads — in collaboration withInformation Nigeria.
“You see where this lettering is, you make sure you clip it, and then you wear it.
“You cannot soak it in hot water; you cannot use bleach or hypo to wash it.
“Just wash it with OMO detergent, the way you wash your shirt. For those living inside face me face you, try not spread it outside.
“Even if you do, try to use a light scarf to cover it.
“You have to be very neat while using this pad. It can last you for six hours., Make sure it is dried completely before you use it. You cannot iron it.
“Please don’t borrow your pad to your sister…”
Although it wasn’t the first time these girls are experiencing their menstrual cycle, they paid apt attention to their lecturer who reeled out the dos and don’ts of using reusable pads which she distributed to girls in the community.
Reusable pads are cloth pads that are easy to manage, and last between 1-4 years. They are also eco-friendly.
In many societies around the world, taboos associated with menstruation, combined with an overall culture of silence around the topic, limit the ability of women and girls to fully and equally participate in society, undermining their overall social status and self-esteem.
Menstrual health is not just a women’s issue. Globally, 2.3 million people live without basic sanitation services and in developing countries, only 27% of people have adequate handwashing facilities at home, according to UNICEF. Not being able to use these facilities makes it harder for women and young girls to manage their periods safely and with dignity.
In Nigeria, 25 percent of women lack adequate privacy for menstrual hygiene management. Globally, over 500 million women and girls lack adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene management (MHM). Inadequate WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) facilities, mainly in public places, including schools, workplaces can pose major challenges to women and girls
In many African countries, menstruation is rarely talked about, yet remains a stressful problem for teenage girls, particularly those from low-income homes who have to skip classes because they can’t afford sanitary pads. Others ask for permission to leave school premises and many stay at home during their periods.
It’s a serious problem, and one that makes girls vulnerable to exploitation. There are men who demand for sex in return for buying girl sanitary pad they desperately need.
Cost Of Pads
The high cost of menstruation sanitary materials is so high that girls from poor background cannot afford hygienic sanitary materials like pad, and monthly menstruation is unavoidable. They miss schools while menstruating, dig holes to sit on, keeps dripping blood without using anything to hold the flow. They are vulnerable to men that take advantage of providing money to buy pads to molest them.
In Ajegunle, a young girl, who does not want her name revealed, says whenever her period shows up, she finds it difficult to access pad, hence she resorts to tissue or clothes before going out to buy pad. She added that being an unexpected incident, sometimes, she does not have readily available funds to procure disposable pads.
Another woman in the community says she does not use pad during her period. According to her, she uses cotton wool, but her daughter has educated her on how to use the reusable pad Sanitary Aid just gifted girls in the community.
With the duration of the menstruation cycle ranging from two to seven days, and average being five – a school girl needs about two packs for proper hygiene management. This means she will need to spend about N600 to N1000.
More worrisome lately is the influx of fake and substandard menstrual pad finding its way into the market from both within and foreign countries. Nigerian alone boasts of over 12 sanitary pad brands, including popular ones like Always, Ladycare, Lady Sept and Kotex® that has just entered the space.
However, quite a good number of these popular brands are battling adulteration, while unbranded ones, many of which do not meet up with standards and whose sources are untraceable, is another menace confronting menstruation safety in the country.
Bose, 28-year-old says she suffers from rashes whenever she uses disposable pads. She expresses joy over the reusable pad given to her by Sanitary Aid Initiative.
A 16-year old girl says she buys tissue whenever she does not have access to pad. She further lamented over the cost of disposable pads.
Through various campaigns, Sanitary Aid Initiative has distributed reusable pad to over 15, 000 girls across Nigeria, and is hoping to draw the attention of the government and international organizations to ensure girls and women do not go back into period poverty,
Many young Nigerians had been calling on the government to reduce or stop taxing female hygiene products. They also demanded that sanitary pads be distributed free to secondary school students and teenagers in rural areas.
Tax On Sanitary Pads
Lack of access to functional and separated toilets, limited information on menstrual hygiene management, and limited availability of sanitary materials to manage menstruation make it more difficult for girls to manage their periods.
Many young Nigerians had been calling on the Nigerian government to reduce or remove taxing the importation female hygiene products. They also demanded that sanitary pads be distributed freely to secondary school students and teenagers in rural areas.
In 2018, a group of Nigerians submitted a petition titled “An appeal to end all the taxes on the importation of menstrual hygiene products (including sanitary pads) and pass the menstrual hygiene bill” to the National Assembly.
Despite these calls, the government is quiet as menstrual products remain taxed – resulting in higher prices of pads.
No Agreement Yet To Suspend Strike ― ASUU
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has denied reports suggesting that it agreed to call off the ongoing strike after meeting with the Federal Government negotiation team led by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige on Friday, November 27.
Recall that the union and the Federal Government had reached an agreement to call off the ongoing ASUU strike after the government reportedly increased its offer for Earned Allowances and funding for the revitalization of public universities to N70 billion.
Reacting to the report, Prof. Biodun Ogunyemi, ASUU President has denied knowledge of any agreement to call off the strike.
He stressed that at the meeting, it was only agreed that the union should convey the Government message to their organs and get back to Government.
The ASUU President told reporters on Saturday morning: ” I am not aware of that. All I know is that we had a meeting and we are going to report to our members. But I don’t know about suspension of the strike.”
ASUU Agrees To Call Off Strike As FG Increases Payment To N70b
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) on Friday agreed to call off their eight-month-old strike.
The decision was reached during a meeting in Abuja between the union and the federal government delegation led by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige.
Based on agreements between the two parties, the government also promised to increase the total payment to the union to N70 billion.
The government stated that it would pay N40 billion as the Earned Allowance and N30bn for the revitalization of the university system to bring the total to N70 billion.
The FG further agreed to settle the arrears of salaries of the lecturers before December 4.
Online examinations and their security with navigation control
Since our movement into the online examination ecosystem, test takers go on to showcase exceptional levels of creativity when it comes to the question on how to crack an exam. In fact there has to be a visible transformation on how candidates plan to pass the exams with flying colours. In the midst of this the candidates end up resorting to some common ways where they end up cheating during an exam
- Impersonation- Once you use an impersonator or a proxy opting for online exams is a common type of cheating. Students are bound to leverage with the inability of the invigilator to figure out the real exam test takers.
- External help – you might end up seeking help from friends or relatives who might be sitting beside the monitor. Holding placards with answers is another way where you can cheat during an exam
- Employment of digital device- smartphones, Bluetooth devices are some of the common ways by which you can cheat during the course of an online exam. They are put to use in order to surf on the web or when you receive information.
Such assertions do not indicate acts of dishonesty in any manner. A proctored exam is going to be of immense help during the course of an exam. A common perception exists that cheating in an online exam is a lot easier than a traditional exam. In a way students employ tactics so they have to succeed academically without the need to be working hard.
But with the use of technology the exams are bound to become cheat free. The question that come to the fore is how honest is the person who is appearing for an exam than merely answering the exam. With the use of proctoring technologies you are in a position to cope up with this issue and the robust features enable the institutes to secure their online examination while maintaining integrity.
Another point of consensus is how it is possible to remote monitor things on what happens in the backdrop of a computer screen. There is no need for them to be aware on what is happening in the backdrop. But still the hack list that is adopted by students works out to be expensive. Still this logic does not hold any value and cheating is a common act.
The type of cheating on the screen
In a conventional exam one of the common types of cheating works out to be copy paste. Be it keeping the answers already who are in document mode or the study material from a separate document, such traditional forms of cheating have gone on to evoke positive response among the students. To be glued to the screen is also a way of misleading an invigilator who does not possess any type of information while observing the screen. He is not going to flag it off as a major cause of concern.
Mirror and screen sharing
When you are sitting for an exam from a remote location, candidates often end up relying on multiple software and the use of mirror apps does appear to be one of them. By the use of this app it allows another person access to the screen of the computer and they can give you answers. Even the students are known to be using Google docs during the course of tests where they go on to review or edit the response of other person and then share it with the invigilators.
With the power of the internet online cheating has gone on to become a walk in the park. An individual who relies on an unfair means is going to switch from an exam, as it can be the use of various websites , social media sites or other sources choices to locate answers of their choice. Just you have to past the answers on to the URL and figure out the best solution from where you can plagiarize the answers.
Relying on the use of external devices
For example the likes of USD or a blue tooth device is easy to conceal and it makes them difficult to detect. Even the smart devices work out to be standard devices when it comes to the question of on screen cheating. Be it before or during the course of the test the students are going to plug it for their easy use.
Another possibility is to configure your computer with blue tooth before you sit for the exam. Even directly copying from them is easy for the tech centric students. A secure exam browser might be of help in such cases. This same logic holds true for blue tooth integrated devices or smart watches that rely on providing answers to the students.
Regularly switching from one screen to another is a method of cheating that works out to be a common task. Even you are going to use keyboards or short cut controls that enables the task of cheating and makes them accessible in an easy way.
The worst part is that students continue to exploit the vulnerabilities despite the fact that there are proper control mechanisms in place so as to curb cheating. But once you adopt technology it goes a long way in making the exams safe and secure. There is no need to regularly deploy the IT staff or the browser of the student so as to adhere to the rules. There is a need to formulate a solution that integrates with the students need during the course of an examination. In fact the need of the hour is a robust and a credible platform that goes full out to prevent the possibility of mishaps during the exams. Not only it means deployment of technology but it is going to prevent any form of violation during the exam. There are a series of software that restricts the possibility of cheating to a major
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