In the free world, menstrual hygiene has been very difficult to practice among young girls and women, talk more of confined places like prisons and IDP camps.

In a country of over 2.6 million displaced people, with major numbers of them being females, many people have difficulties with feeding and shelter, not to mention those who can’t afford sanitary materials for their menstrual cycle.

Nigerian Prisons, now known as Correctional Services, which has 1,250 female inmates out of a total population of 65,824 inmates, isn’t left out of this mess as one of the inmates said, “less attention is given to female inmates by the public, so we get the same thing as our male counterparts. There’s a pretense as if menstruation doesn’t exist here, so we rely on our relatives, NGOs or pay exorbitant prices to get sanitary materials”.

In the outside community, menstruation was not a socially acceptable topic until lately. So, it’s understandable to see the reason why we are still discussing the topic in 2021. In United States of America, after many cries and agitations, the First Step Act Bill was signed into law in 2019, mandating that female inmates be given free sanitary materials to protect their rights to dignity.

Nigeria took its first step in putting an end to the menace called period poverty. In late 2019, a motion was passed in the House of Reps calling for the subsidization of sanitary materials. You can call it a round peg, but is it in the round hole? The subsidization of sanitary materials would make it affordable to people but it still won’t make it accessible to people who cannot afford it. These sets of people are the vulnerable and they exist in the prisons and IDP camps.

There’s an alternative means for which menstrual hygiene can be maintained in prisons and IDP camps. This alternative would reduce textile and disposable pad waste and in turn reducing climate change. It’ll also last longer and at the same time ensuring healthy menstrual hygiene. Models can be gotten from organizations such as Reaching Minds Foundation who have run the End Period Poverty campaigns.

The government should look at the reusable pads as a viable form of empowering women in these areas and also, helping them maintain a healthy hygiene.

Abass Oyeyemi, oyeyemiabass@yahoo.com

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