Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, November 15th, 2019

Kabul Event Marks Girls’ Hygiene Day

Kabul Event Marks Girls’ Hygiene Day

KABUL - Afghanistan on Wednesday renewed its commitment to educating girls on menstruation management and good hygiene and accelerating awareness-raising in this regard to mitigate social taboos.
The theme for 2019 International Girls Hygiene Day is, “It is time for action” -- a call on call for everyone, at all levels, including families, schools and communities, to take deliberate and concrete action, to eradicate the stigma and negative conceptions around menstrual hygiene, and provide girls with equal opportunity to maximise their potential.
First Lady Rula Ghani in collaboration with the Ministers of Education, Public Health, Women Affairs, as well as Rural Rehabilitation and Development, together with international partners collectively made a commitment to breaking the silence on menstrual hygiene for the wellbeing of every girl.
“Adequate personal hygiene and nutrition during adolescence are important and help young girls to grow to their full potential and protect themselves from the most common and debilitating health problems,” said Rula Ghani, also patroness of girl’s education and empowerment.
Girls need accurate information and improved sanitation facilities in schools, to manage their hygiene, particularly during their menstrual period. Lack of information about menstruation hygiene put young girls in shock, stress and discomfort.
Since MHM is a multi-sectoral issue, efforts have been made to ensure integration between WASH, education, gender and nutrition sectors to improve MHM.
UNICEF in coordination with Ministry of Education advocated for action by partners on MHM amongst adolescent girls in schools.
In 2019, UNICEF published more than 100,000 copies of the MHM booklets in Dari and Pashto, distributed in about 1,250 schools across 22 of the 34 provinces. Some 300 teachers were also trained on the MHM guidelines.
Speaking at the event, Education Minister Dr Mohammad Mirwais Balkhi said, “Girls have an irrevocable right to education, which is lost if they feel unable to attend lessons because of a lack of sanitary products or clean, private toilets at school. Governments simply need to ensure that every school has clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene."
UNICEF Representative for Afghanistan, Aboubacar Kampo, described the day as an important occasion to break taboos and encourage girls to grow into healthy and informed women, who can share their well-being with their families and communities.
“It is our collective responsibility to ensure that every girl is equipped with accurate information on menstruation as a normal biological process.”
He said educating girls on menstruation management built their self-esteem and confidence.  “It also contributes to social solidarity, encouraging healthy personal hygiene practices among girls”.
Current evidence and key findings indicate that 70 per cent of girls do not take bath or shower during menstruation for fear of infertility; 29 per cent of girls reported to miss some school days when they were having their menses; some 80 percent girls were not allowed to attend social events such as weddings, or funerals, or going to shrines during menstruation; and that 50 per-cent girls were not aware of menstruation until first period started.
Malalai, 15-year-old, in grade 9 at the Fatehmatul Zahra school in Paktika province, said she encouraged her classmates that girls should take a bath during menstruation.
“We should never miss out on education, as mensuration is not a disease, but a natural part of our growing up. We only need to know how to take care of ourselves properly”.  (Pajhwok)