Concerned about the challenges of menstrual poverty among the girl child in Nigeria, the Cakasa Ebenezer Foundation (CEF) has donated reusable pads to 100 adolescent girls in Lagos State’s Education District 1.
Managing Director, Cakasa Nig. Company and Chairman, Cakasa Ebenezer Foundation (CEF), Engr. Philip Balami Yaro made the donation on Monday at the annual Ornaments of Grace and Virtue (OGAV) summer empowerment camp at Government Girls Senior College, Agege.
Each girl child was presented with a pack containing three pads that are reusable for one year.
The event, tagged Empowerment Day – Health and Wellness for Adolescent Girls, was themed ‘Ending menstrual poverty’ and it features over 1000 school girls within Lagos State.
Engr. Yaro, who was represented by CEF’s Executive Director, Mrs. Helen Egbe, said the foundation was honoured to be associated again with OGAV, which has been championing the cause of the girl child, holding regular summer empowerment day camps; this year, focusing on ‘ending menstrual poverty’.
He said: “Girl child empowerment especially among secondary school pupils aligns with two of CEF’s objects of Education and Empowerment and the UN Sustainable Development Goals 1, 3, 4 and 5 of zero poverty, good health and well-being, quality education, and gender equality respectively.
“The focus this year on ‘ending menstrual poverty’ is key to ending the perennial difficulty that the typical Nigerian child faces.
The chairman cited research which found that a lack of access to appropriate menstrual products can negatively affect a person’s mental health to the extent that most of such disadvantaged persons can sometimes slip into bouts of depression. Yaro said: “Many people living in menstrual poverty fall into this group. Such people have been reported to use rags, toilet paper, and, sometimes, children’s diapers. In some cases, people have been reported to use menstrual products that they are able to afford for longer than intended. “Using such alternative products has put individuals at higher risk of urogenital infections, which are infections of the urinary and genital systems. These infections include urinary tract infections and bacterial vaginosis.”
He explained that this was the basis of their support to OGAV.
“It is for this reason that Cakasa Ebenezer Foundation is supporting one hundred (100) adolescent girls with reusable pads in this year’s camp,” Yaro said.
Also speaking, Egbe explained that this was only the latest in a long list of contributions to the girl child’s welfare from the CEF, adding that about 5,000 girls in Lagos and Rivers State had been impacted, 3500 so far in collaboration with OGAV in Lagos.
She said: “Last year we gave more girls. The total last year was 1,500 girls but what we did was to support OGAV because OGAV has been driving this empowerment as Summer Empowerment Programme in the last six years.
“We came in and we partnered with them in 2019 and then in 2019, we were able to empower girls, you know, in the camp. “There was a career camp. We were able to empower over 1000 girls with knowledge in different areas of careers. We also provided educational materials for 1000 girls in 2019, and in 2019, we were able to give 10 of the girls from this education district 1, scholarships. It’s a two-tier scholarship, we have the secondary and then university level, first degree. So those girls right now are enjoying that scholarship from 2019.”
She noted that the Covid-19 pandemic interrupted further assistance in 2020 but in 2021, there was a two-day empowerment programme in collaboration with OGAV.
“We were able to provide educational materials. Different other sponsors supported with other different personal care, reusable pads, and we had like a care pack–it was called The Care Pack Initiative and with that, we were able to empower 1500 girls; 1000 from education district 1, that’s Alimosho; 250 from Surulere education district 3; and then, 250 for education district 4, Lagos Island.”
OGAV’s CEO, Olubusola Kolade, said there was a plan to reach out to girls in two more education districts: District 111 (Surulere) and IV (Ikoyi).
“We have been coming to the district for the past six years; we actually started at Ikoyi, with about 120 students in 2013. We came to district 1 and did another 200. We moved to 400 and from there we moved to 1000. Since then we’ve had 1000 students for a solid four years. Altogether within the Lagos State educational district, we have impacted nothing less than 6000 girls.
She praised firms, individuals, family, and friends who contribute to the initiative, including CEF.
“Cakasa Ebenezer Foundation of Cakasa Engineering Company. We are grateful for your financial support of 100pads. Parents, if you could remember those of you that were present at the closing ceremony of 2019 SLC my tears of joy on this stage at the announcement of the Cakasa Foundation Scholarship to university level that was awarded to 10 deserving girls by the MD Engr. Yaro,” Kolade added.
Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folashade Adeline Adefisayo, who was represented by Mrs. O. Adediran of the ministry’s Basic Education Services Department, Alausa, commended the event’s organisers and sponsors.
“It is very educative and impactful and it will be of immense benefit to the girl child,” she added.
Guests at the event included Assistant Director Ministry of Youth and Social Services Mrs. Banke Williams and Dr. Toyin Faboya from the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, who taught the over 1,000 girls about menstruation and their bodies. A parent, Mrs. Olajumoke Dosunmu, whose daughter Oluwafunminire of Dairy Farm Senior School is one of the recipients of the CEF Scholarship since 2019, praised CEF’s dedication to the girl child, adding that the scholarship included full training up to university level.