Reusable pads are sustainable alternative to disposable pads. They are made from absorbent cloth, which could be washed, dried and reused.
Reusable cloth sanitary pads, could be a sustainable solution for managing menstrual hygiene challenges, and alleviating period poverty in Nigeria. It could be a remedy to some of the numerous menstrual hygiene challenges, faced by girls and women in Nigeria. This is so because it is reusable, affordable, kind to the environment and above all, sustainable in the long term.
Menstrual Hygiene Challenges Nigeria
Period poverty has led to absenteeism from school and work, by many women and girls in Nigeria. For example, some girls testified to their inability to sit comfortably in school due to the menstrual materials used. Because of the embarrassment leakages can cause, and the fear of being laughed at by their peers, some girls decide to stay at home during their period. Based on UNICEF estimates, one in 10 girls in Africa miss school during menstruation. This can eventually result in girls dropping out of school or lagging behind in school activities and their studies.
Period Poverty in Nigeria is Exacerbated by Cultural Myths
According to BBC News “Poverty has risen in Nigeria, with almost 100 million people living on less than a $1 (£0.63) a day” Poverty in Nigeria made many unable to afford hygienic menstrual materials which result to the use of rags, newspaper, cotton, tissue paper and leaves to absorb blood during menstruation. This act has exposed many girls to different health risks. Such as urinary tract infection, increase risk of cervical cancer, infection, sepsis among others. Action must be taken to avoid future problems for girls in Nigeria
Often times, women and girls are restricted as a result of myths and norms they believe to be true, which in the real sense is wrong and can’t be proven. Some of these myths are, a menstruating woman must not touch flowers or vegetables, as it is believed the touch will kill such flower. A menstruating woman should be isolated, and must not have contact with anyone. All these baseless myths, tend to have adverse psychological effects on girls and their confidence.
Kwada John a secondary school student in Adamawa, northeast Nigeria said “often times I feel frustrated, and I constantly question why God created me a lady”. She said she cannot afford basic menstrual hygiene essentials, such as sanitary pads”. She added that it has been extremely difficult for her family to feed, therefore getting a menstrual pad is a least of the priority of her family. Unfortunately, Kwada John’s story is the same about 55% of girls in Africa face every month. Most of the girls lacks access to adequate menstrual health materials because they cannot afford it.
A story on BBC News sums up how poverty in general has risen significantly in Nigeria, and how period poverty in particular is affecting women and girls, except:
“Poverty has risen in Nigeria, with almost 100 million people living on less than a $1 (£0.63) a day” Poverty in Nigeria made many unable to afford hygienic menstrual materials which result to the use of rags, newspaper, cotton, tissue paper and leaves to absorb blood during menstruation. This act has exposed many girls to different health risks. Such as urinary tract infection, increase risk of cervical cancer, infection, sepsis among others. Action must be taken to avoid future problems for girls in Nigeria.
Predominance and environmental implications of disposable pads
Disposable pads has been in existence as far back as the early 20th century. Most women use disposable pads, which often come in plastic. According to National geographics, menstruating woman uses about 5 -15 thousand tampons and sanitary pad in a lifetime. This creates plastic waste, most of which end up in landfills waste disposal sites. Plastic and other wastes link to menstrual hygiene, is the fifth largest plastic pollutants in the world.
Often times, we seem not to put into consideration how our daily activities and actions impact the environment with the popular saying “ No planet B” On Earth, human activities are changing the natural greenhouse, The issue of climate change should be given so much attention so as to prevent future catastrophe. Most menstrual products come in plastic, Tampons is wrapped with plastic dangling string, covered in plastic applicator and a plastic absorbent. These products are disposed after use, resulting in more waste destined for landfill sites.
Disposable pads are not affordable to low income women and girls in Nigeria. In fact, the cost of menstrual hygiene materials is making already poor people in Nigeria, even poorer. The picture for the rest of Africa is the same, about 40% of women in Africa lack access to decent menstrual pads. Most parents can’t afford to buy pads for themselves or their girl child sanitary pad. Which makes most girls face that time of the month, with anxiety and trepidation.
It has been reported that some girls get involved in transactional sex, just so that they can purchase disposable sanitary pad. This type of behaviour just to be able to buy sanitary pads, makes them vulnerable, It also exposes them to un expected consequnces such as early pregnancy, abortion, sexually transmitted infections and other diseases.
Washable Sustainable and Reusable Sanitary Pads Option
The recent growth in the availability of washable, reusable menstrual cloth pads, could be one of the solutions to alleviating period poverty, and reducing the environmental impact of disposable sanitary products. Reusable pads are sustainable alternative to disposable pads. They are made from absorbent cloth, which could be washed, dried and reused.Although reusable menstrual cloth pads is not popularly in Nigeria just yet. The awareness and availability is just growing. One of the reasons for writing this article, is to boost the public awareness of this sustainable method of alleviating period poverty, and minimising the adverse environmental effect of disposable sanitary pad products.
Reusable menstrual cloth pads may seem expensive at first, but when the fact that it can be reused for up to 3 years. The initial outlay to purchase it is trivial. Washable reusable sanitary pads is said to be about 75% cheaper than disposable sanitary pads