In its resolve to overcome one of the biggest healthcare challenges facing teenage girls from less privileged homes in Nigeria, Polaris Bank has launched a Feminine Hygiene initiative. The programme has so far seen the bank sensitize over a thousand secondary school girls on feminine hygiene practices and provide them with the items with which they could manage their menstrual cycle without missing any day at school.
The initial intervention which ended August 2021, spanned two geo-political zones: North Central and North East, directly reaching nine schools across three states. The initiative has been lauded as timely, especially in improving the lives of many young girls and women in the country with thousands of girls as beneficiaries.
The project was in collaboration with Green Girls Company, a subsidiary of Folio Media Group, covered Kogi, Gombe, and Borno States, respectively. The beneficiary schools include Federal Government Girls College, Kabba; Government Science Secondary School, Lokoja and Army Day Secondary School, Lokoja; Kogi State. Other schools include Government Girls Secondary School, Doma; Government Science Secondary School, Budapest Shongo, Government Secondary School, Pilot, Gombe State; Government Girls College Maiduguri; Government Secondary School, Ville and Federal Government College Maiduguri in Borno State.
In a statement issued by Polaris Bank’s Group Head, Strategic Brand Management, Nduneche Ezurike, “the feminine hygiene campaign fulfils a vital pillar of the Bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives.”
Mr. Ezurike said that the perceived ‘culture of silence and shame among school girls and women regarding feminine hygiene is partly due to cultural restrictions.’
“Unfortunately, this has given rise to the transmission of inaccurate and insufficient information on the subject,” he added.
He explained that: “The intervention is an important exercise to disabuse minds of people on the myths and taboos associated with feminine hygiene, as well as raise awareness on the subject so that women and girls feel empowered to manage their periods safely, hygienically, and without embarrassment.”
Ms Oyebola Oyedele, the lead consultant of the Green Dignity Kit project, said, “Making the girls feel a sense of worth is the high point for me. I could see the sense of appreciation and self-confidence from them. The intervention from Polaris Bank in response to the needs of young girls is a move in the right direction towards debunking existing myths and solving a global issue.”
Erisa Danladi, Director of Programmes, Women Affairs, Gombe State, commended the efforts of Polaris Bank and the organisers of the programme, noting that: “The exercise will impact the lives of the young girls; I look forward to more of such programmes taken to remote areas of Gombe state.”
Emilia Ugochi, the School Health Personnel at Army Day Secondary School, Lokoja, Kogi State, noted: “We are grateful for this initiative, as most of the girls have been unable until now to state the challenges they are facing. This programme has given them more confidence to reach out for help when needed.”
Remarking on the impact of the initiative, Fibi Mohammed, Head Girl, Government Girls College, Doma, Gombe State, said that: “The products will go a long way in making us feel more comfortable during our monthly period. In the past, we often rush to our hostels to overcome the inconveniences that come with inability to access sanitary products.”
“The lecture was very useful and I am excited to pass it on to my younger ones. The health tips have encouraged me in my ambition to become a medical doctor,” said Aisha Abdulahi-Abubakar, an SS2 student of Government Girls Secondary School, Ngoshe.
Also, Bilkis Barma, from Government Girls College, Maiduguri, said, “My parents have four girls, so there are often more pressing things to take care of in the home. My Friends and I have been using different materials which I was made to understand from this lecture that they are unhygienic. I am more than happy to receive these products and please come back to our school,” pleaded Hauwa Musa-Maina from Government Girls Secondary School, Maiduguri.
Polaris Bank’s feminine advancement footprint which includes partnerships with the International Women’s Society; Lagos State Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation; Care Organization and Public Enlightenment (C.O.PE) Foundation and a host of others are all efforts geared towards the empowerment of women.
The Bank’s intervention supports Principle 4 of UNEP-FI Principles for Responsible Banking. The bank seeks to engender a sustainable Nigerian society through its business and Health, Safety, and Environment (HSE) targets for sustainable impact.
Polaris Bank is a future-determining bank committed to delivering industry-defining products and services across all sectors of the Nigerian economy.
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