“Before receiving these items, I and my sisters use “tsuma (rags)” when on our periods. This is the first time I’m seeing this thing; a sanitary towel”
Lami, a secondary school student in the Kakuri community, Kaduna State is one of the beneficiaries of our Civil Society Organisation Engagement (CSOE) project. Along with many other young girls in her community, she had almost no access to hygienic sexual reproductive health products or services.
Before the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, many states in Nigeria still grappled with providing quality healthcare services for members in hard-to-reach communities and other rural areas. While governments and other International Organisations are working hard to alleviate this issue, the COVID-19 pandemic brought about significant change to the approach of the matter. It surfaced a lot of social problems in many societies.
For women and girls in the urban slum like Lami’s community, the pandemic came with an accompanying increase in SGBV (Sexual Gender-Based Violence) and the difficulty for women and girls to access menstrual products. Hence, these gaps birthed the Civil Society Organisation Engagement (CSOE) project. This was a strategic partnership between UNFPA(United Nations Population Fund), PPFN(Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria), and Eye-opener foundation – a grassroots Civil Society organisation (CSO) operating out of the Kakuri community
One of the activities of the Civil Society Organisation Engagement (CSOE) project was the distribution of “Dignitary Kits” containing Sanitary towels, Underwear, Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Combs, Flashlights, towels, and petroleum jelly to rape survivors and vulnerable young women.
While UNFPA was responsible for providing technical support and coordination for the implementation, PPFN was responsible for collaborating with Eye opener foundation, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Women Affairs at the Federal, State, and Local Government levels to intensify efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus and provide essential health services in Kakuri.
The initiative allows girls to walk into the Eye-Opener office and collect free sanitary towels. For sustainability purposes, beneficiaries could benefit more from reusable, clean towels, which might prove to be more cost-effective and environmentally friendly in the long run. On the other hand, due to the overall successes recorded in the CSOE project, a new project based on its structures targeting uptake in covid-19 vaccines was born.