Donating menstrual pads and educating girls about menstrual hygiene and pregnancy is the key to Girls Health and Education Foundation. Over 3,000 girls have been impacted in Nigeria, a country where the lack of access to basic menstrual hygiene and knowledge on sexual matters. The goal is to expand awareness of new communities and call out for sustainable brands, that would give the opportunity to women to have access to reusable sanitary pads.
Benedicta Chukwuyem Uweru is an active leader. Her background is pharmacy and is genuinely passionate about dysmenorrhea and teenage pregnancy.
Her purpose does not end in the medical domain, as her mission is educating younger generations in Nigeria around sexuality, feminine health and hygiene. Some real change is happening in Africa, a country where the lack of education seems to be a major challenge, especially for women. Benedicta finds that education empowers women, as:
“What does an uneducated girl have to offer a nation?”
Education is one of the most powerful weapons in the fight against extreme poverty.
Since Benedicta started the Girls Health and Education Foundation, her passion on educating young girls on health matters has also been present at many other massive organisations such as One.org, the Young African Women in Leadership, as well as One World Foundation. In this last one, she earned to be listed among the 50 Young African Women Leaders.
Girls Health and Education Foundation is an organisation that advocates and intervenes in the health and education of the girls at very young ages.
Some of the most remarkable campaigns were held in 2017, that took place in the Living Faith Church, Obiaruku, Delta State, in Nigeria. Here over 200 girls and 100 boys attended a seminar with experienced speakers on the panel.
Most parents don’t talk about pregnancy, and at school, they only learn the basics, but the reality is that students would not ask any further questions due to fear. The goal of this conference was to stand up against teenage pregnancy, helping girls to understand the illnesses and stress that can cause getting pregnant as a teenager.
Here the students were given sex education with highly interactive Q&A sessions, so they felt freedom in a safe environment to ask as much as they wanted; for those who were too shy to do so, they had the chance to write the questions in a paper.
— Benedicta Uweru (@BennyYem) December 6, 2016
A “Love letter to myself”
On Valentine’s day last year, Girls Health and Education Foundation run a unique campaign that consisted of getting girls to write a “Love letter to Myself”. During the day they learnt about menstruation and menstrual hygiene, added to the special activity. Writing a letter to themselves showed how essential it is to love themselves to increase confidence, instead of waiting for someone else to do that for them.
The result was a ton of beautiful and emotional love letters, where few students read in class. For some of them, it was their first time reading in front of their schoolmates, which also helped to alleviate low self-esteem.
And because “There’s no love without giving” Benedicta and her team donate pads for 1,000 girls! They claimed that “Menstruation is natural and pads should be for free”.
“Their reaction was priceless, especially for those who use rags or tissue paper instead of pads. Their faces literally lit up with joy and excitement.”
Benedicta has also been an advocate for other global campaigns, such as “Poverty is Sexist” launched by One.org. Again, the aim was to draw attention to the crisis around girls’ education, as over 130 million girls globally are out of school. The greatest opportunity for a country is investing on their education, as the report, ONE’s Poverty is Sexist proves that “Educating every girl to secondary level in sub-Saharan Africa could help save the lives of 1.2 million children. Educating girls to the same level as boys could benefit developing countries to the tune of at least $112 billion a year. It also helps stabilise societies that are vulnerable to extremism.”
Girls Health and Education Foundation has organised many other conferences on menstrual hygiene, donating sanitary pads as well as bringing awareness on this matter through leadership training. Over 3,000 young girls have been positively impacted. And the plan now is to extend to other new communities in Nigeria.