Period Poverty is one out of the numerous challenges confronting women, particularly young girls in the Niger Delta region.
It can be described as a the lack of access to menstrual products, education, hygiene facilities, waste management, or a combination of these.
On daily basis, most of the girls in the region are faced with issues regarding their menstrual hygiene, particularly those in the rural areas and urban slums.
Regrettably, those who experience period poverty are unable to purchase the menstrual products they need, and, in many cases, this means that they cannot go to school or work or otherwise participate in daily life activities.
Such situations can also result to physical, mental, and emotional challenges. It can make some of these girls feel ashamed of menstruating, and the stigma surrounding periods prevents them from talking about it.
It is against this backdrop that the Rotary International District 9141 has come up with a project, ‘Pat the Girl Child’ targeted at reaching out to 2000 young girls spread across Bayelsa, Rivers, Delta and Edo states which make up District 9141.
According to the District Governor, Eyone Andy Uwejeyan, empowerment of the girl child is one of the seven areas of focus in Rotary International’s humanitarian and service projects.
Uwejeyan noted that the pilot scheme for the ‘Pat the Girl Child’ project kicked off in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, for which about 500 girls were trained on how to produce reusable pads.
The District Governor who made this known during the Midyear Assembly/District Governor’s press conference held at the Ernest Ikoli Press Centre in Yenagoa, disclosed that hundreds of different projects for the benefit of humanity have been embarked upon in the different clubs that make up the District 9141.
He said, “At the beginning of 2021/2022 Rotary year, we made certain specific commitments as to areas we are going to place special emphasis. For non-Rotarians, whatever we do in Rotary International is wrapped in what we call ‘our seven areas of focus’.
“All our entire activities, all our entire humanitarian and service activities are wrapped under our seven areas of focus which include peace and conflict resolution, prevention of diseases, maternal and child birth, basic education and literacy, economic empowerment and environment.
“In my capacity as the district governor, we decided to focus on some areas because we have nearly 3800 Rotarians in 221 clubs. Each and every one of this clubs is involved, very deeply, in one service project or the other, within the seven areas of focus.
“We decided to focus on certain specific projects. One of them is the empowerment of the girl child. For the purpose of that, we introduced what we called, ‘Pat the girl child’. Pat the girl child project is targeted at reaching out to 2000 young girls that are spread across the four states that make up our district.
“Because unknown to most of us, the girls, particularly in the rural settings and in urban slums, they are faced with what we call period poverty. They have challenges with their periods and the ability to take care of them though as a result of poverty and lack of knowledge as to how best to go about it.
The District Governor was optimistic that with the commencement of the ‘Pat the Girl Child’ project, problems associated with menstrual hygiene would be brought to minimal.
Also, the 2000 girls that will benefit from the project will also be trained and equipped on how to train other girls. With that, the District 9141 would have been able to cover as many as 20,000 girls that would be trained on how to produce these reusable pads and to maintain their menstrual hygiene.
Disclosing other humanitarian and service projects embarked by District 9141, Uwejeyan said they are committed to establishing dialysis centre in each of the four states, starting with Delta State, adding that two international partners have already been identified to work with the district.
He said, “We have the support of the state Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, who has graciously approved piece of land for us for that purpose and we are working very closely with our international partners for ensuring that that project is achieved in good time.
“Am also hoping that I will meet with His Excellency, the Governor of Bayelsa State, where this issue will be introduced. He has been hinted. The wife is also very passionate about the empowerment of the girl child. We are also expecting that this project will kick off in Bayelsa, in Rivers as well as in Edo states.
“We also plan to establish a rotary centre in Asaba and a botanical garden. The governor of Delta State has approved a large expanse of land for this project. Also in Bayelsa, the governor has graciously approved a large expanse of land for us for similar project. In Rivers State, we expect that the governor will also toe that line. The Governor of Rivers State has been particularly helpful to Rotary International in supporting our project and so also in Edo State.
“We also plan to embark on micro credit scheme for the poorest of the poor. You may be surprised to know that those women that you see on the market side, the total value of their wares may be thirty, forty, fifty thousand naira and if they get another fifty thousand naira added to what they have and that money is deployed into their business, it will improve their economic wellbeing and that of their family and by extension the society.
Uwejeyan further disclosed that District 9141 has also set a target with the intention to raise the sum of $650,000 for the Rotary Foundation. The Rotary Foundation is the arm of Rotary International that executes all the important projects that will be carried out all around the world.
“We have gotten support from the Governor of Bayelsa State for purpose of putting into the foundation and by extension, carrying out the responsibility of doing good to the world. We have achieved significant growth in that direction. As of now, we have been able to put together over $450,000 for the purpose of serving humanity”, he revealed.