Over 600 young girls empowered by Ariyiike regarding menstrual hygiene on UN's Menstrual Hygiene day

Over 600 schoolgirls in Nigeria have received a valuable lesson on menstrual health and have also been given sanitary pads by Girls Talk With Ariyiike (GTWA), a charity initiative led by Ariyiike Owolagba. This project was organized to commemorate the annual United Nations World Menstrual Hygiene Day. The sanitary towels project was held at Abeokuta Grammar School, and healthcare practitioners were present to engage young schoolgirls between the ages of 10-17 years on menstrual health education and management. The initiative is geared towards sensitizing young girls, especially in rural areas, on menstrual health and hygiene to prevent them from dropping out of school.

The partnership with GTWA, the Office of the First Lady of Ogun state, and Procter & Gamble, makers of Always Nigeria, ensured the successful distribution of sanitary towels to young girls. According to Ariyiike, the CEO of GTWA, hygiene and sanitation problems resulting from economic status, combined with cultural taboos related to menstruation, lead to many girls missing an average of four school days every month. This situation leads to girls falling behind academically and eventually dropping out of school altogether. The stark disparity in school attendance between young girls and young boys inspired the GTWA to close this gap.
GTWA, which is only eight years old, has already left a mark among young girls and cultivated long-term relationships with over 27,000 girls through education, sanitary products, and ongoing relationships with counselors. The school tour started four years ago when it was realized that action needed to go hand in hand with advocacy to close the gap. Ariyiike has been able to have a lasting impact on thousands of girls year after year through the participation of medical professionals, counselors, and volunteers.

At the outreach, free sanitary towels were distributed to female students. Ariyiike also delivered fun and engaging training and Q&A sessions on menstrual health to keep the young girls entertained. Through her approach, she has been able to find new and interesting ways to empower the disadvantaged young girls.

Recalling the previous years' experience, Ariyiike said that the first edition of GTWA was in 2020, and they visited Iseyin District Grammar School, Iseyin, Oyo state. For the second edition held in 2021, they visited Oregun Junior and Senior High School. The third edition took place in 2022, and they visited Radiance B&G College, Agbado, Ogun State, where they caught the First Lady's attention. As a result, they explored the possibility of a partnership for the fourth edition.

The collaboration between the First Lady and GTWA aims to extend this movement to all schoolgirls in Ogun state. Ariyiike was also invited to the girl child event put together by the First Lady to mentor the girls in celebration of the International Day of the girl child in 2022.

It is essential to note that many young girls in Nigeria still miss school due to their menstrual health, either as a result of the taboo surrounding the topic or their inability to secure sanitation products. It becomes imperative to have more initiatives like the GTWA to educate and empower young girls on menstrual health. This will ensure that young girls are given equal opportunities in education, which is crucial for achieving gender equality and sustainable development in Nigeria.

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