THE Menstrual Hygiene Initiative undertaken by First Lady Arya Ali to end period poverty in Guyana, was given a significant boost on Thursday, with a donation of US$50,000 worth of sanitary pads from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
“Removing barriers to access basic sanitary products for girls allow them to exercise their reproductive rights. UNFPA is therefore pleased to support the excellent period poverty initiative of the First Lady as it addresses the right to health, dignity and gender equality,” UNFPA Liaison Officer for Guyana, Adler Bynoe said during a simple handing over ceremony at State House.
Describing the donation as “significant”, Mrs. Ali thanked the UN agency for its support, and highlighted how important it is for the issue of period poverty to be recognised and actioned by international organisations like the United Nations.
The UNFPA will also be partnering with the Office of the First Lady next year to conduct sensitisation workshops on sexual and reproductive health, and the implementation of a public education and awareness campaign.
Last year, Mrs. Ali announced her intention to end period poverty in Guyana, an issue which adversely affects women and girls in the hinterland, and restricts access to education.
Sanitary pads are currently being distributed in secondary schools across all ten administrative regions. More than 30,000 students will receive one year’s supply of pads.
Mrs. Ali highlighted, too, that the initiative started with a focus on school-aged girls, many of whom were unable to attend school when they had their menstruation because they either could not afford or access sanitary products.
“So, we started with the schools, providing coverage to all school-aged girls, and then we will move to providing coverage to women, beginning with the most vulnerable,” the First Lady stated.
This year, the government provided $50 million of the $60 million required to provide full coverage to all school-aged girls. Donations, sponsorship and fundraisers have helped to compensate for the remaining sum.
With full coverage provided to all school-aged girls, attention will now be on providing sanitary products to women in vulnerable situations, with the aim of expanding coverage countrywide.
In the long-term, the project seeks to ensure that every woman and girl in Guyana is provided with free sanitary products.