On Menstrual Hygiene day we talk to an AmplifyChange grantee about her work as a Menstrual Health Management (MHM) educator.
Q1. Tell us about yourself…
My name is Engono Judith, I’m from Douala, Cameroon and I work with Inside Development as a MHM educator on their youth programme.
Q2. Tell us about Inside Development - what work do they do and why is it important?
Inside Development is a local NGO who promote human rights for women and children, fighting against discrimination and following up on actions to improve their lives socially and economically.
Q3. Tell us about your typical working day when you are delivering MHM education - what sort of things do you talk about, what do children ask you, how does it make you feel?
Inside Development is currently implementing a menstrual hygiene project in Mbalmayo, a small locality situated not far from Yaoundé. We have selected two high schools, College Jean Paul II and The Bilingual High School of Mbalmayo.
We start around 9.30am and do up to 4 classes during lesson times, two days a week. During our program training we distribute reusable pads and teach girls how to use them (including how and where to dispose of them) we also discuss menstrual hygiene and human sexuality. The majority of the classes are delivered to girls but boys attend a few specific sessions.
Young girls have very little knowledge of what is happening to their bodies or how to manage their period. We provide them with small calendars, show them how to record their period and how to time when it will next arrive.
Q4. The theme for MH day 2017 is education – what challenges do you face and what positive changes have you seen through your work on MHM education?
Education and sensitisation to help young girls become more aware about their menstrual hygiene is extremely important. Young girls in rural areas, even urban areas, have poor knowledge about menstrual hygiene and are very shy and lack the confidence to talk about it.
Since implementing our project over 4 months ago, we have already seen a change in the girls’ knowledge. Now, they are showing greater confidence in the changes to their bodies during puberty and how to calculate their menstrual period using a menstrual calendar.
Another big change is the creation of a lunchtime menstrual hygiene club. The club usually attracts around 15 pupils. It provides girls and boys with an informal, safe space to talk. Each person introduces themselves and we discuss questions that are on people’s minds.
We have received testimonies from school authorities, recognising and congratulating the team, and encouraging us to continue our work.
Q5. What advice would you give to other grantees who are working in this area?
Our approach is to create a confidence area, where the young girls can feel free to express themselves. We really need to listen first before talking.