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UN Women drills trainers for grassroots menstrual hygiene campaigns

The UN entity for gender equality and women’s empowerment, UN Women, has trained some 25 local community administrators and NGO…

The UN entity for gender equality and women’s empowerment, UN Women, has trained some 25 local community administrators and NGO officials on gender, hygiene and sanitation with focus on menstrual hygiene. The four-day training which ended in Mbalmayo on March 17, was organised in collaboration with the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, WSSCC.

Participants in the training which is part of a continent-wide program, were drawn from five municipal councils namely the Ntui, Batchenga, Meyomessala, Somalomo and Idenau councils.

Suzanne Tah Zamafor, Second Deputy Mayor of Idenau who doubles as president of the local platform for menstrual hygiene in the town of Idenau, took part in the training. She says the trainers training bolstered her knowledge on hygiene and sanitation.

“We have been working on menstrual hygiene but I have learned some important things we used to neglect such as the considerations for people with disabilities during construction of toilettes in public buildings, schools and hotels. We learned the importance of water in these toilettes and the need to make the toilets gender sensitive, clean and safe for women to change their sanitary pads” she says.

Pierre Yene, another participant at the training says after the training, they are expected to ensure that every village in their respective sub-divisions and beyond, should have community committees for the follow up of menstrual hygiene management, gender and sanitation programmes. Yene said all participants at the workshop have pledged to transmit the knowledge gained, to people in their various localities.

Solange Abe Onana, representative of the ministry of women’s empowerment and promotion of the family, said the knowledge impacted on the trainees revolved around three key points.

These included “breaking the silence” to eradicate myths, stereotypes and some cultural beliefs that are unfriendly to menstrual hygiene management. Secondly emphasis were laid on the hygienic practices promoted so far, with the aim of ameliorating them. Thirdly, the trainer trainees were schooled on proper and efficient methods of disposal of sanitary pads for girls and women.

She also hinted press that members of parliament were sensitised in Yaounde a couple of weeks ago. “Since they are the representatives of the masses, we believe they would be ambassadors of the campaign in their communities” Onana said.

She also said they hope that besides advocacy, they hope the members of parliament will take the initiative in parliament so that legislations should be put in place to ensure gender sensitivity in construction of both private and public buildings in Cameroon.

Countries benefiting from the trial phase of the menstrual hygiene campaign of UN Women and the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, WSSCC include Cameroon, Senegal and Niger.

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