Sep 4, 2023
Receiving a handshake from His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, while His Excellency, Udom Emmanuel, looks on.
Advocacy Inspires Change!
2019, that was the last time I made an entry. A lot has happened since then in my work at TeenGirls Development Foundation and I am glad to be here to share with you all, fellow changemakers.
In the last five years, I have received refreshing commentaries about my work with teen girls and I have also seen my work receive more acceptance from the people of my community and beyond.
For example, in September 2019, shortly after my last entry here, I had the honour of having the immediate past Vice President of my country, Nigeria, His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo pay me a surprise visit, in company of the immediate past Governor of my State, all in recognition and appreciation of my works for the girl child, and contributions to community development. How surreal and exciting that surprise visit was!
Since then, I have painstakingly been on advocacy drive for engaging community sensitisation on menstrual health and this led to having a group of young people, of like mind and interest, volunteer for my subsequent project phases.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in 2020, through my Menstrual Health Education project tagged 'Pad For Girls Project', together with the volunteers, we sensitised and reached out to about 350 girls in two different schools in rural communities bearing free sanitary products for them, and after the pandemic lockdown in October, we extended our reach to a technical college in another community, where we directly reached over 100 girls in the college, with quality sanitary products supply for three months cycle.
In 2021, we then had a remarkable movement on the project, partnering with Procter and Gamble, Office of the Vice President on Community Engagement and other individuals within our community.
This partnership significantly empowered us to mark Menstrual Hygiene Day 2021, visiting three more public schools in three different localities, reaching well over 1000 indigent school girls from low income families with at least two months supply of sanitary products.
In 2022, during the commemoration of the International Day of the Girl Child, we were able to as well donate free sanitary products to over 300 school girls in our city, and every single time we do this, it feels like we have only just begun because most of the girls are always very excited and pleased about our visits to their schools, as they get to ask us lots of questions regarding menstruation, plus receive freely, sanitary pads, which appeared to be luxury.
During the course of this work, I have interacted with, and heard stories of girls in rural communities and inner cities, who through the years they have been menstruating, have never heard of sanitary pads, tampons or menstrual cups, let alone seen what they look like, nor even get a chance to use them.
I have listened to some of them share with me some of the difficulties they face managing themselves during periods while attending school.
I have also witnessed firsthand, how some of them would reject the free sanitary pads we donate, simply because they have a different orientation, as some have been socialised to believe that using rags is better than using sanitary pads, as shared to us by a school girl in one of the villages we visited.
This means that our sensitisation and advocacy efforts is also going a long way to correcting some cultural beliefs, myths and misconceptions held about menstruation.
Worthy of note also is listening to individuals and organisations within my community say that they are inspired by my work, and this has led some of them to get involved, advocating for the girl child and working to donate sanitary products to school girls in the hinterlands.
While the progress of positive feedback in my ongoing work from our target audience and stakeholders is a boost to me, it is also a pointer to the truth that young people can effect changes in their communities, and that our voices; my voice, and your voice, is of great importance towards designing the kind of society we want to live in.
Therefore, I am pleased to announce that through the last five years, my work on Menstrual Health Education has been an eye-opener to understanding more of the challenges girls face. But even more, it has brought hope, progress, and equity in my part of the world, and this is a testament to the fact that advocacy inspires change!