Period poverty cripples future of Namibian girls

Several studies pinpoint poverty and menstruation as key factors influencing African girls' school attendance and their ability to lead a healthy and successful life.

22 February 2021 | Health

JANA-MARI SMITH

WINDHOEK



The onset of menstruation for many Namibian teens poses a threat to their health, education, development and success later in life as they navigate the troubling hurdles of poverty, social taboos, and access to toilets and fresh water.

In Namibia, with poverty and school absenteeism a major concern, the lack of concrete data around menstrual health and management among school-going teenagers has prompted a study that was undertaken last year to better understand the extent of the issued and find solutions. Two years ago, it was estimated that around 150 000 marginalised girls are unable to afford period products during menstruation. They are forced to use toiletpaper, newspapers, cloth, mattress stuffing and in some cases plants to manage their menstruation.

In 2019, the BBC reported that a Namibian schoolgirl admitted she had resorted to using contraceptive injections to control her periods, as she could not afford sanitary products. It is estimated that at least one in 10 girls in Africa miss school because of menstruation.

A study in Uganda of 140 school girls found that two-thirds missed school each month.

A draft report is expected to be completed this year, the education ministry confirmed this week.

“There is no concrete data on the number of Namibian girls missing school due to menstruation but anecdotal data suggests the number is high,” the research proposal document, on which the study is based, states. The authors said poverty and sanitation, in addition to social and religious stigmas in some communities “hinder the effective participation of the girl child”. “This results in schoolgirls having to miss classes for three to five days each month. Lack of water and sanitation facilities at school cause high failure rates and drop-outs from school amongst girls.”



Rich vs poor

“Where all rich people use toilets, only 8% of the poorest population uses toilets meeting basic criteria. Also, regional disparities in access to basic sanitation in Namibia is pronounced,” the 2020 research proposal notes. The Khomas Region boasts the highest access to sanitation, with 71.5% of households having access to private or shared flush toilets. In the Kavango West Region, studies found only 6.3% of households use flush toilets. Unicef's 2018 annual report on Namibia found “school-based sanitation remained a challenge, with nearly one-quarter of schools lacking sanitation facilities in 2018. This had negative consequences on school attendance and learning outcomes, especially for girls during their menstruation.”A study in Kenya found that 10% of a group of girls aged 15 who were questioned on menstrual health admitted that they resorted to transactional sex to obtain money for sanitary pads.

This deepened their dependency on the men throughout their later life, the study warned. Several studies across Africa based on interviews with policymakers pinpointed “poverty and menstruation” as key factors influencing their school attendance and their ability to lead a healthy and successful life.



Discrimination

Many argue that access to sanitary products, especially to school-going girls, is a crucial step towards promoting gender equality and helping girls overcome social barriers while improving education rates and promoting poverty elimination.

Although advocacy for such a move has attracted increasing support in Namibia, and efforts to supply sanitary products from private and state sectors are in place, some lawmakers, both male and female, have shied away from the subject.

In November 2020 Scotland became the first country in the world to declare all sanitary products cost-free for women and girls. The Period Products (Free Provision) Scotland Bill was passed last year, two years after Scotland became the first country to provide free sanitary products to schools, colleges and universities. For those who can afford sanitary products, it is estimated they spend around N$100 000 on sanitary products during their lifetime.

Similar News

 

Obesity one of leading risk factors for premature death...

2 days ago - 02 March 2021 | Health

Obesity is most commonly measured using the body mass index (BMI) scale. The World Health Organization (WHO) define BMI as: “a simple index of weight-for-height...

Pay up first, council tells ministry

3 days ago - 01 March 2021 | Health

Erwin Leuschner SWAKOPMUNDThe health ministry wants to use additional municipal bungalows in Swakopmund for quarantine purposes. While the town council has approved...

Govt overspent on Covid-19 budget

1 week ago - 25 February 2021 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKESWINDHOEKThe health ministry has exceeded its N$727 million Covid-19 response budget by about N$50 million, the ministry’s executive director Ben Nangombe confirmed yesterday.Nangombe said...

Covid-19’s impact on noncommunicable diseases

1 week ago - 23 February 2021 | Health

Moving towards universal health coverage, promoting health and wellbeing, and protecting against health emergencies are the WHO global priorities that are shared by the proposed...

What they don't tell you about contraceptives

1 week ago - 23 February 2021 | Health

TUYEIMO HAIDULAOSHAKATINamibia has been struggling to provide family planning, which health executive director Ben Nangombe blamed on the Covid-19 pandemic. However, hospitals have started restocking...

Vaccine arrival delayed again

1 week ago - 22 February 2021 | Health

JEMIMA BEUKESWINDHOEKHealth minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula has announced that instead of the promised beginning of February, vaccine doses under the Covax facilities will now only...

Period poverty cripples future of Namibian girls

1 week ago - 22 February 2021 | Health

JANA-MARI SMITHWINDHOEK The onset of menstruation for many Namibian teens poses a threat to their health, education, development and success later in life as they...

New oxygen machines for Otjozondjupa

1 week ago - 22 February 2021 | Health

ESTER KAMATIOTJIWARONGOThe Otjozondjupa Region has received two oxygen concentrator machines worth N$45 000 from the Namibia Community Trust.The machines were handed over on Thursday by...

Cancer association remains steadfast in mission to fight cancer...

1 week ago - 19 February 2021 | Health

STAFF REPORTERThe Cancer Association of Namibia (CAN) joined global partners in a campaign to raise awareness about childhood cancer on World Childhood Cancer Day on...

A world where all people breathe freely

2 weeks ago - 16 February 2021 | Health

Globally, it is estimated that about 3 million deaths were caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in 2015 (that is, 5% of all deaths...

Latest News

FirstRand Nam’s profit dives 9.4%

7 hours ago | Business

Jo-Maré Duddy – Locally-listed FirstRand Namibia reported a profit of about N$564.9 million for the six months ended 31 December 2020, a drop of some...

Letshego Nam takes N$60-mln profit...

7 hours ago | Business

Jo-Maré Duddy – Locally-listed Letshego Holdings Namibia reported a profit of about N$341.4 million for the year ended 31 December 2020, a drop of nearly...

Otjikoto sitting on a gold...

17 hours ago | Business

Jo-Maré Duddy – B2Gold’s Otjikoto mine is expected to reach record-level production this year and through to 2024, the Canada-based low-cost international senior gold producer...

Mining survey: Chamber hits back

17 hours ago | Business

PHILLEPUS UUSIKU Too few responses have skewed Namibia's performance on the 2020 Fraser Institute Survey of Mining Companies, tarnishing its image as an attractive investment...

‘Not up to you’

17 hours ago | Education

TUYEIMO HAIDULA ONGWEDIVA Higher education minister Itah Kandjii-Murangi says institutions of higher learning...

Sioka in hot water over...

17 hours ago | Ministries

JANA-MARI SMITH WINDHOEKThe clock is ticking for child welfare minister Doreen Sioka who has less than a month to present a...

Corruption - A social disease...

17 hours ago | Columns

Johan CoetzeeGiven ongoing media articles about governance, manifested in contraction of investment and increasing unemployment, it is appropriate to reflect on several trends covering several...

EDITORIAL

17 hours ago | Opinion

The phony attempts by mainly men in the National Unity Democratic Organisation (Nudo) to undermine its president Esther Muinjangue will only further dissuade women from...

Drought policy in review to...

17 hours ago | Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT WINDHOEKThe agriculture ministry is in the process of reviewing the country’s drought...

Load More