Aisha: Reusable sanitary napkins for menstrual hygiene for the women of Jéré
INTERPILLAR: SOCIAL COHESION, NATURAL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT, SOCIO-ECONOMIC INTEGRATION
Aisha lives in Maiduguri, Borno State, in the North-East of Nigeria. This area located on the border with Cameroon, Chad and Niger is subject to recurrent exactions by non-state armed groups (GANEs).
Since 2018, the RESILAC project has been working with the populations of the area by providing livelihood and psychosocial support to the populations, institutional support as well as implementing social cohesion activities aimed at easing tensions particularly between host and displaced populations and reweaving community social capital deeply eroded by the impact of the security crisis.
According to Aisha, recurring conflicts in communities are mainly "disunity, discrimination of displaced persons, inter-religious conflicts and marginalization of children and women.
RESILAC's social cohesion activities in Nigeria are aimed at easing tensions between communities and between men and women. In the face of the multidimensional crisis in the Lake Chad Basin, which is eroding social cohesion and increasing women's vulnerability, it is essential to support the socio-economic development of the populations in order to strengthen their financial autonomy. Through joint social cohesion and socio-economic integration activities, the project helps women regain their self-confidence and become actors of their own development.
I have participated in several activities of the project concerning social cohesion, such as traditional wrestling matches, traditional games, "conflict cafes" where we cook and share a meal together, but also a training on waste recycling and also one on menstrual hygiene.
Menstrual hygiene is a taboo subject in many societies, which penalizes women and makes them even more vulnerable in conflict zones. As a real and opaque issue within societies, menstruation represents an obstacle to the development of girls and women. Within the framework of the project, 140 women from the 7 communities of the local government of Jéré received training on menstrual hygiene.
During this women-only training, participants learned how to make practical, reusable pads using local materials.
"During the training, I learned how to take care of myself during my menstrual period and I also learned how to make sanitary pads with local materials such as fabric scraps. We use these pads for ourselves and also distribute them to women and girls in the community. This is very useful because industrial pads are expensive and we don't have the financial means to buy them, which leads us to have poor menstrual hygiene and prevents us from continuing our activities during this period because we have to stay at home.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the lack of access to adequate protection and the lack of knowledge about menstruation leads 1 in 10 girls to miss school during their menstrual cycle .
«There should be more awareness among women and girls about menstrual hygiene and the use of locally made reusable pads ».
In order to clean up the environment and strengthen the economic independence of the population, especially women, Aisha and other beneficiaries have at the same time participated in training on the transformation of plastic waste.
What does 8 March mean to you?
"It is not just a day to dress up, go out and party. It is a day for women to get involved, to think, to make decisions in the community to make a positive difference."
*The name of the village has been changed
« Menstruation is a barrier to our development. We don't talk about it enough in our communities. Because we don't have access to sanitary protection, almost all our girls miss school during their periods ».
« In parallel, we also did a mixed training this time to learn how to reuse plastic waste. We learned how to make briquettes from charcoal from wood residues, bags from leftover polythene plastic bags, bio gas, bio fertilizer, tiles from plastic waste. It was useful for us because in addition to reducing the amount of plastic waste outside, the sale of the products made allowed us to increase our income. »
Menstrual hygiene training participants
Making briquettes from carcoal
« I will apply the techniques I learned during the training to make other products. I would like to make this my main source of income».
*The images have been blurred to guarantee the anonymity of the beneficiaries
Manufacture of coal briquettes