Benue inaugurates Nigeria’s first state technical working group on menstrual hygiene management

News
The Nigerian state of Benue has become the first in the country to establish a technical working group (TWG) on menstrual health and hygiene management (MHHM) at the state level.
By
Olajide Adelana
Mrs Joy Ijuwo, Benue State Coordinator for the Society for Water and Sanitation

The new group comprises of a wide spectrum of 40 members, including 26 women and 14 men from government ministries, agencies, international partner organizations and civil society groups.

The inauguration of the TWG took place on 6 July against the backdrop of a multi-stakeholder dialogue on MHHM in Makurdi, the state capital of Benue.

The one-day dialogue was organized by the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development with technical support from the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), United Purpose (UP), Organized Private Sector WASH (OPS-WASH), the Eunice Spring of Life Foundation (ESLF), and the Gender and Environmental Risk Reduction Initiative (GERI).

Speaking to high-level experts and dignitaries from the water, sanitation and hygiene sector, Hon. Nyiazungwe Tabitha Igirgi, Commissioner of Women Affairs and Social Development, emphasized the commitment of the ministry to advance MHHM within the state.

She commended efforts made by civil society groups in enabling girls and women to practice safe and hygienic menstruation, while also acknowledging various partners’ efforts in this regard.

The commissioner also highlighted that the training of trainers session on MHHM, held by the WSSCC in 2019, was a good step in the right direction as it triggered more action which has now led to the inauguration of the TWG.

“I, therefore, must commend the efforts of our supporters, WSSCC, United Purpose, OPS-WASH, the Eunice Spring of Life Foundation, and the Gender and Environmental Risk Reduction Initiative in making this event possible. It is our hope that this event can create a platform towards the achievement of our objectives in menstrual health and hygiene, and WASH in general,” she said.

Pledging the ministry’s commitment to coordinate the group, Hon. Igirgi tasked members of the TWG to work closely and assiduously with one another to ensure improved menstrual health and hygiene management in the state.

Ms Elizabeth Jeiyol, WSSCC National Coordinator for Nigeria, acknowledged the efforts of sector partners in promoting hygiene and the campaign against open defecation.

She said that the inauguration of the TWG will go a long way towards institutionalizing MHHM in the state and following in the steps of the Federal Government which has a similar working group at the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development.

Ms Mamita Bora Thakkar, UNICEF WASH Manager in Nigeria, recognized the importance of the initiative in strengthening efforts to address MHHM challenges in Nigeria. She also pledged UNICEF’s support to MHHM with the aim of improving outcomes in education, health and gender equality for girls and women.

Mrs Dorcas Kwamande, the representative of United Purpose, reaffirmed her organization’s intention to address the challenge of open defecation in the state, with menstrual health and hygiene needs being strongly upheld. She said UP, through RUSHPIN, is committed to partner with all in order to ensure that no one is left behind.

In her opening remarks, Mrs Joy Ijuwo, State Coordinator for the Society for Water and Sanitation, stressed that menstrual health and hygiene management is a precondition for ensuring total sanitation in the state.

In a similar vein, Mr Tine Agernor, Programme Manager with the Eunice Spring of Life Foundation, extended to the group the appreciation and support of the First Lady of Benue State, Dr Eunice Ortom, adding that she is willing to use her position to advocate for the institutionalization of MHHM in the state.