By Iwunze Jonathan
The topic of menstruation stays a problem of gender inequality, particularly in low- and middle-income international locations with restricted menstrual training and little or no entry to protected menstrual supplies.
Difficulties confronted by menstruating females in rural communities are additional compounded by taboos and restrictive practices that additional widen the gender disparity. The males — whether or not as brothers, husbands or in-laws — actively participated in increasing this gulf. Iorungwa Targema was certainly one of such males till he noticed the sunshine.
In the journal, “A time for global action: addressing Girls’ menstrual hygiene management needs in schools”, Mahon et al observes, “It is suggested that male attitudes are one of the main factors driving the stigmatization and myths surrounding menstruation.
“Recognition and inclusion of the gendered nature of women’s reproductive health is weak, with low priority given to issues of gender equality and positive sexual and reproductive health outcomes resulting in MHM being a neglected issue.”
READ ALSO: Breaking Silence on Menstruation: The ladies of Logo battle myths, poverty, stigma
Jordan Rosenfeld in her article, “Ignorance About Menstruation Puts Women’s Health at Risk”, states, “Bleeding men are revered. Blood spilled in war is heroic and earns men respect; blood brothers show their deep, abiding loyalty with a slash of crimson between palms. That reverence comes to a screeching halt the moment the blood is pouring from between a woman’s legs.”
Thus, a part of the rationale why taboos and restrictive practices exists and stay ingrained within the hearts of many even on this trendy age, is basically owing to the attitudes of males in the direction of the follow.
Because of a scarcity of menstrual training and consciousness to bust these myths and lies surrounding menstruation, ignorance continues to carry sway and age lengthy beliefs and practices stay, even within the hearts of harmless minds.
That was the case with Iorungwa Targema, 41, who lives in Oversea group in Logo LGA of Benue State, Nigeria.
Speaking on misconceptions he had on menstruation, he says: “I come from a community that had many taboos and myths on menstruation, but with the advent of Christianity, they appear to have faded away even though many still hold on to those ideas. It was considered normal practice to avoid women during menstruation as they were not allowed to cook for us or lie on the same bed with their husbands.”
Iorungwa comes from an space that has lengthy been embroiled in conflicts, and in a bid to safe their lands and crops in opposition to intruding herdsmen, they have to wage battle on many fronts. Thus, to be ever prepared for warfare, the boys imagine within the efficiency of charms to guard them throughout any of such wars.
Therefore, the avoidance of menstruating ladies was not elective, they believed, to keep away from nullifying the efficiency of those charms. With this data Iorungwa involuntarily keyed into the widespread mindset. “I would avoid my wife during her monthly flow and would not eat anything she cooked because I thought that was the right thing to do,” he says.
The introduction of the RUSHPIN Programme into rural communities amongst different issues birthed the WASHCOM association, the place chosen group members shaped a committee that served as enforcers of water, sanitation, and hygiene associated issues.
Iorungwa was privileged to function a WASHCOM member in his group. Thus, advocating for issues regarding well being was not new to him. However, the problems concerning stigmas and taboos surrounding menstruation, and handle the following well being challenges ensuing from unhygienic menstrual practices remained alien to him.
Fortunately, the RUSHPIN Programme organized by United Purpose facilitated collection of Menstrual Health and Hygiene associated actions in communities round Logo space of Benue State, and Iorungwa was a part of the train.
“It was an eye opener,” says Iorungwa. “The facilitators explained matters in a way that was clear, and the arguments were irrefutable. I had never thought about menstruation that way.” Iorungwa was amongst the choose women and men locally who have been earlier educated to make reusable pads, however he by no means actually put the coaching to make use of as he didn’t contemplate it vital.
As a part of his motion plan, Iorungwa resolved to make the most of his function as a WASHCOM member to enjoin related stakeholders on the group stage to hitch his trigger in ending the stigmatization of menstruating ladies and women. He organizes interactive classes the place he educates the boys as to their roles in making certain their ladies and lady kids have protected and hygienic menstrual practices.
He additionally now places the coaching he had earlier obtained in making reusable pads to good use. He produces reusable pads and plans to distribute two every to each family in his group without spending a dime. Thus, making certain that the issue of lack of funds to acquire low-cost menstrual supplies in lots of households, may have been solved.
Iorungwa’s story is compelling proof that with the precise consciousness and motivation, males can change into advocates in shifting ahead the MHM agenda and be a part of the battle in breaking the myths round menstruation, take sensible steps to assist the ladies in ending stigmatization, and be even keen to go in opposition to the gang for this trigger.
Iwunze is a WASH, Solutions and Data Photojournalist
Vanguard News Nigeria