Monrovia – A local NGO has attempted to break the barrier to tutor Islamic women on two topics that are not usually discussed within the Islamic religion. Even in the larger Liberian society, Family Planning and Menstruation Hygiene Management are things that are less talked about publically.
However, Community Healthcare Initiative (CHI) is now taking the conversation to underprivileged women and girls at various places of worship and teaching them how to locally make a reusable sanitary pad.
“In time past, this conversation was stigmatized especially at places of worship where women are considered ‘uncleaned’. You were not to talk about it,” Naomi Tulay-Solanke, Executive Director of CHI said.
“So, this stopped people from even having a conversation about menstruation. Menstruation is not just about the blood flow. It is about the female’s body. It is about recognizing the signs and symptoms and challenges that come along with it; the right to speak about it and moreover its management.”
CHI is a non-governmental organization that promotes strengthening healthcare, social services, women’s rights, child rights and peace in Liberia through awareness and advocacy.
At the Benson Street Mosque, the organization recently mentored 25 women and adolescent girls on how to plan their family, manage their period and make reusable sanitary pads.
For most of the time during Madam Solanke’s tutorship, it was an eye-catching event. As such conversation, especially taking place in the mosque was strange to the women who are of the Islamic Faith.
According to CHI Executive Director, for the last four years her organization has been taking the conversation to schools and market places.
The organization was successful in securing funding from OXFAM Liberia through its Discretionary Fund for 2018 and 2019 under a project called ‘Pad4Empowerment.’
She added that it was time that the conversation is taking to mosques and churches to enlighten women.
Madam Solanke said: “We have extended this campaign in the mosques and churches to make many women as possible know about their body and be able to make informed decisions.”
She told the young women that preventing early childbearing will enable them to go to school and with that, they can contribute to the development of their country.
“If you are not ready to have children, you have to prevent it, or else you will get a child that you are not ready to have or don’t have the means to support. The constant usages of condom keep people at fewer risks of getting STDs and STIs and will also prevent unwanted pregnancy,” she stressed.
Madam Solanke outlined six different ways for a woman to carry on what she terms as safe family planning. Among the six measures, she told the young women that it is better to go by their natural menstrual cycle.
“Every woman or girl should understand her cycle because that is the power you have; that is to understand your body because tomorrow maybe there would be no commodities of condoms or tablets. Once you understand yourselves as a woman, you can prevent yourself from getting pregnant,” she said.
Speaking to FrontPageAfrica at the end of the workshop, the participants praised CHI for the education.
Haja Kiadii, said she can prevent herself from having unwanted pregnancy to acquire higher education.
“I prefer the family planning tablet because it will not be all the time I will be able to observe my cycle and maybe my friend will not be able to bear with me for that time,” Kiadii said.
“Family Planning will prevent me from unwanted pregnancy and with that, I can achieve my education.”
Adding, the Executive Director of Union of Muslim Association, Skeikh Idrissa Swaray said he was pleased to have witnessed for the first time such event taking place at the mosque.
“This conversation is new in the Muslim Community. So, with the training, I am sure the information that they have gathered here today will serve as a guard for our young women,” Swaray added.