Nine out of 10 girls miss school during their menstrual period — UNICEF

United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Ghana, says that menstrual hygiene is still a huge challenge to girls as nine out of 10 miss school during their menstrual period.

Mr Paa Kwasi Woode, WASH Officer, UNICEF, also mentioned that about 20 per cent of girls from the ages of 15 to 19 were facing that challenge.

He stated that during their menstrual period they felt excluded from school, churches and communities.

Mr Woode said this when he made a technical presentation on the state of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Ghana at the Sustainable WASH in Schools Forum, organised by Pencils of Promise in partnership with UNICEF and other stakeholders in Accra.

He said the research was conducted in 2012 and in recent years in 2017, and with some new research all showing that the situation had not changed but almost the same and attributed the precarious situation to the complexity of factors.

“Nine out of 10 have missed class as a result of their period and that is complex, there are several reasons such as the girls not having pads, they are not sure of having facilities to clean and manage themselves, or even if there are facilities the functionality becomes a problem,” he said.

The situation which had been described by stakeholders as gloomy was said to have been exacerbated as 26 per cent of public basic schools do not have access to toilets.
Whilst 25 per cent of public basic schools do not have access to water, 46 per cent of schools do not have basic hand washing facilities.

Also, data from the Education Management Information System (EMIS) 2020, indicated that 11 per cent of private basic schools did not have access to toilet facilities whilst 16 per cent had no urinals.

“We should be very concerned about these statistics, in our schools, girls are still facing challenges, they are not getting supplies. We are talking about menstrual hygiene and the prices of sanitary pads increased between September last year and this year and these girls cannot afford them,” Mr Woode said.

Mr Freeman Gobah, Ghana Country Director, Pencils of Promise, told the Agency the figures were staggering, and they were working to provide sustainable WASH facilities and programmes to schools in the Volta, Eastern and Oti Regions.

He said Civil Society Organisations would not be able to fund activities of the sector going into the future because resources were dwindling.

“We need the Government to allocate key resources to the sector through the district assemblies to solve the sanitation problems in schools which would reflect in the communities in which we work,” Mr Gobah said.

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