Menstruation is perhaps one of the most regular individual female experiences, but in sub-Saharan Africa, the experience impacts general society negatively due to the absence of products required by women and girls to cope with menstrual flow. To state it bluntly, menstruation has become like a curse not only to the women and girls but to society in general on the continent. Because menstruation is largely a private act, the social damage is hidden and never makes the news headlines. Also, there are cultural and social attitudes that render discussion of menstruation almost impossible.
The natural process of menstruation comes as a big problem to women and girls in many parts of Africa, contributing to both disempowerment and health risks. Menstruation is perhaps one of the most ordinary individual female experiences but, in sub-Saharan Africa, the experience often impacts society as a whole negatively due to the absence of clean water, sanitation, and products to cope with menstrual flow. Furthermore, young girls are forced to skip school during the time they experience monthly periods to avoid both the cost of pads or use of cloths. To make matters worse, many schools in underprivileged areas lack sufficient sanitation facilities which are vital not only during a girl’s period but at all times generally such as water, adequate toilet facilities and appropriate dumping facilities for sanitary wear.
The need for affordable sanitary wear for women and girls in Africa is indeed a major public health issue that governments need to prioritize in their planning. Access to affordable sanitary care is human right but one that is never discussed in our male dominated world. Whatever the case, the fact remains: every woman should be able to have access to the right products which can enable them to happily experience menstruation. Well not so much happily but at least bearable. No girl child must be disadvantaged by the natural process of menstruation in this day and age were reusable pads have been invented. Governments, civil society organizations and other players need to work together to ensure that the appropriate services are made available.