COLLINS PHIRI, Lusaka
THE United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Zambia says school-going girls need adequate information on handling their menstruation as it can result in negative consequences if left unattended to.
USAID chief of education Iris Young said this during the launch of the Eco Wash Pink Pad, a product and sanitary wear developed by Yash Pharmaceuticals.
Meanwhile USAID has commended the Zambian government for launching the revised Gender Policy
â€œToday we focus on young women and girls, that when given the same opportunities can find equal success. We need to acknowledge that women and girls have unique health needs.
Menstruation is a normal part of a girl and a womanâ€™s life. With half of all students experiencing menstruation, it is easy to see that, if mismanaged, if not provided for, if ignored, it can have major consequences. It can result in high rates of school absenteeism, more school drop outs and poor reproductive health, all of which will have negative effects on girlâ€™s potential,â€ Ms Young said.
She said on average, girls may miss 36 school days per year due to menstruation.
Meanwhile Ms Young said it is gratifying that the Policy was reintroduced as a guideline to promote gender equality in Zambia in order to provide women and men with equal opportunities in society.
Minister of Gender and Child Development Nkandu Luo said Government has acknowledged the need to improve the learning environment for girls who have reached puberty to access sanitary wear, especially in rural schools.
Prof Luo said in a speech read on her behalf by her permanent secretary Daisy Ngâ€™ambi that she is aware of the negative effects of poor menstrual hygiene management in schools can have on the academic performance of the girls.
She said that it is unfair for the girl child to stay away from school during the menstrual periods on account of not having proper sanitary wear.
â€œThe amount of school time and work missed by girls is huge and might never be recovered in their school lifeâ€ she said.
And Yash Pharmaceutical Limited director Himaushu Patel said it is time for women and girls to break the taboo and speak freely about menstruation.
COLLINS PHIRI, Lusaka