First Lady takes Menstrual Hygiene Programme to Region Nine

1,800 girls benefitting from a year’s supply of sanitary napkins

As part of an historic programme to end period poverty in Guyana, First Lady, Her Excellency Arya Ali launched the Menstrual Hygiene Initiative in Region Nine (Upper Takutu – Upper Essequibo) on Friday.

First Lady, Mrs. Arya Ali (centre) poses with the Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand; British High Commissioner to Guyana, Jane Miller and other representatives at the St. Ignatius Secondary School

At the launching ceremony held at the St. Ignatius Secondary School in Lethem, the First Lady indicated that globally, more than 800 million girls continue to miss school for at least one week every month because of period poverty.

“You little girls are our future nurses, doctors, lawyers. You are the future leaders of our country and at no point in your life should you be forced between having an education or staying at home because you do not have access to sanitary pads… So, of those 800 million girls, after today, no one should be from Guyana,” the First Lady expressed.

Mrs. Ali reaffirmed her commitment to doing everything in her power to help women and girls in not just Region Nine, but all other regions. She also implored teachers and guardians to facilitate conversations about women’s health.

“Many of you here might not need these pads since accessibility is not an issue, but for thousands of other girls, the pads will be eagerly received. I want you to recognise that the advancement of women in society also depends heavily on the extent in which we as women support each other.”

Meanwhile, Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand, MP, who also attended the launch of the initiative, called on women, girls, men and boys to end the taboo and stigma attached to periods.

The Minister referred to a study done by the Education Ministry which found that a large percentage of girls skipped at least six days of school annually due to their periods. She added that girls are also forced to decline participating in cultural activities and/or normal events to enhance their wellbeing, which is also a consequence to their menstrual cycle.

First Lady, Mrs. Arya Ali poses with two students of the St. Ignatius Secondary School

“We also found in that research that 41 per cent of girls use other products outside of sanitary napkins,” Minister Manickchand noted.

DPI spoke to beneficiaries of the initiative who expressed their gratitude for the First Lady’s intervention.

Sarita Joseph, a fourth form St. Ignatius Secondary student shared that she, like many other girls, suffer from period shaming.

“Because of my period I do not participate in certain activities. There are some children out there who take advantage of you and make fun of you because of your period. But I am listening to the First Lady and learning not to be embarrassed of my period.”

St. Ignatius Secondary School students snap a selfie with British High Commissioner to Guyana, Jane Miller

Alini Robeiro told DPI that a financial burden is lifted off of her family now that her region is supplied with a year’s worth of sanitary napkins.

“This is so helpful and I am thankful for it,” she said. 

British High Commissioner to Guyana, Jane Miller, also attended event and commended the initiative.

Notably, the First Lady, with the support of the education minister will be launching the initiative in every region.