Some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have called on government to establish a national hygiene steering committee that will be responsible for coordinating menstrual hygiene management policies and programmes.
The NGOs, led by the Water and Environmental Sanitation Network (Wesnet), petitioned Parliament on Monday with an aim of lobbying the House to pass laws that will promote the construction of facilities that will cater for the needs of girls and women.
The subject of menstruation is usually a taboo and has many negative cultural attitudes and believes associated with it.
Some of the NGOs that endorsed the petition include United Purpose, Water Aid Malawi, World Vision and United Nations Children’s Fund.
The petition, which was received by Parliamentary Women Caucus Chairperson Jessie Kabwila, among other things, indicates that 20-25 percent of the schools in the country operate without protected water supply and that, on average, there is just one latrine for every 150 students.
Wesnet National Coordinator, Crispine Bokho, said one of the contributing factors to high dropout rates of girls is the unavailability of sanitary facilities in schools.
“The petition is all about breaking the silence because issues of menstruation seem like a taboo in the country. We want people to start talking about it. We want the government to start putting relevant structures for menstrual hygiene,” he said.
The steering committee, according to the petition, will comprise the ministries of Health, Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development and Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare, among others
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