Did you know that 1 in 4 women struggle to afford period products? Period poverty isn’t just about affordability, but also about the lack of knowledge about menstrual hygiene.
I flew back to Nigeria sometime in March 2020, and had only planned on staying a week. But due to the coronavirus, my short, one-week trip turned into a year-long stay.
During my stay, I read a newspaper article about period poverty, and how large of an issue it is in Nigeria. The article spoke about how some women and girls in underprivileged communities use palm tree leaves as a substitute to period pads to hold their blood. This made me burdened with sadness, and re-ignited my passion to help solve the issue of period poverty.
I immediately went into different communities to speak to women and girls in order to get a better understanding on the issue of period poverty in Nigeria. Thereafter, I volunteered for a charitable foundation that worked with women and girls to provide them with menstrual products.
However, not long after, I took the initiative to start my own: Flo Haven. Flo Haven is play on the word “LOVE”. We believe in spreading love to communities through provision of eco-friendly menstrual products as well as menstrual health education. We also believe in having a sustainable impact on these communities.
In Nigeria, there are people who don’t have access to period products and menstrual health education because of their circumstances and as a result, they don’t make informed decisions when it comes to their menstrual health.
Our goal is to raise awareness of this issue and provide women and girls in several Nigerian communities with sustainable menstrual products and relevant menstrual health information. We want them to make informed decisions about their menstrual health, and be able to care for their menstruation in a safe, secure way. To do this, we aim to distribute 5,000 menstrual kits to underprivileged communities this year.
So far, we have carried out outreaches in Surulere Girls High School and Agege Community. We distributed 247 menstrual kits and explained the importance of menstrual hygiene, and being knowledgeable about menstrual health education.
I want to additionally share that Flo Haven is not a women-only coalition; men are also involved. Men must be included because these conversations need to be had across all genders. We need to remove the stigma that comes with talking about periods so everyone can be educated, and be a part of the solution towards eradicating period poverty.
Most importantly, I want people – not just me – to see the real problems of period poverty and how it negatively affects menstruators in these communities. Everyone should have access to period products and period education.