menstrual safety, one of the challenges at the beginning of the school year

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The return to school took place on Monday 13 September for seven million students in Côte d’Ivoire. The possibility of coming back to a recurring problem: menstrual safety in schools. Many girls do not have access to sanitary napkins due to lack of information or ways to buy them. This often leads especially to absenteeism in school.

as reported from Abidjan, Pierre Pinto

According to Unesco, one in ten girls in sub-Saharan Africa does not go to school during the menstrual cycle, which corresponds to 20% of school time lost to her each year.

Madoussou Touré, chair of the NGO Smed-CI, which supports mothers and children in need, has made it one of her battles: “Sanitary napkins cost a lot in Côte d’Ivoire. It starts with 500 francs. A kilo of rice is also about 500 francs. So women in an insecure situation prefer to buy rice than to buy these towels to protect themselves. And there are girls in the north who do not talk about it. Because it’s taboo, we do not talk about it and you will not go to school with the colored dress. Then suddenly they stay home and lose hours of class. “

Government assistance is needed. Smith-CI regularly distributes sanitary protection in Maca, Abidjan Prison. But one-time distributions in schools by NGOs fall under the symbol and are not a solution.

The scale of the problem requires government support, says Madoussou Touré: “If we could zero in on these products, we would have greater accessibility to these products and there are plenty of girls who would not miss school. So it’s an appeal to the state of Côte d’Ivoire. ”

In addition to access to protection, solutions to menstrual safety also include information for young girls and their access to appropriate sanitation, especially in schools. This is not always the case in some remote rural areas.

► To read about: Back to school in Côte d’Ivoire: a report condemns that education will be expanded

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