VSI – Vision Spring Initiatives

A Story of Impact: Empowering Rural Girls in Nigeria with Menstrual Health and SRHR Knowledge

Imagine a world where access to sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR) services, products, and information is not just a luxury for some, but a fundamental right for all. In rural communities across Nigeria, this vision remains a distant dream for many young women and girls, especially those facing the dual challenges of limited resources and pervasive stigma.

In the rural communities of Nigeria, there is a lack of access to sexual and reproductive health rights services, products, and information, leading to a myriad of challenges for young women and girls, especially those made vulnerable by floods. Many resort to unsafe methods of accessing their SRHR, such as using unsanitary materials like rags, leaves, and even mud to manage their periods, posing serious health risks and perpetuating the stigma and misconceptions associated with menstruation.

Menstruation is often seen as a taboo topic, shrouded in secrecy and shame. This stigma has led to a range of negative consequences, including misinformation, discrimination, early marriage, teenage pregnancy, and gender-based violence.

Against this backdrop, Vision Spring Initiatives (VSI), a nonprofit national human and women’s rights organization with its headquarters in Ikorodu, Lagos state with support from Global Fund for Women launched a pilot project in Majidun, a rural community in Ikorodu, to address the issue of sexual and reproductive health rights. VSI recognized that the lack of access to proper and quality SRHR education is affecting the well-being, decision-making, and productivity of young women and girls in these communities, and sought to provide a holistic solution that addressed the root causes of the problem. During emergencies such as flooding, healthcare facilities are either locked or are relocated, making access difficult for vulnerable women and girls.

The project, which was implemented in collaboration with community leaders and healthcare workers – aimed to provide adolescent girls and young women with access to quality SRH information, as well as comprehensive education on menstrual health management, hygiene, and gender-based violence. VSI also engaged its trained staff members to serve as educators for these young women and girls, providing them with a safe space to discuss their experiences and challenges.

Following the success of the pilot project in Majidun, Vision Spring Initiatives decided to replicate the model in Ganaja village located in Lokoja, Kogi State. VSI recognized that this community is often affected by floods, which can lead to layers of violence, abuse, discrimination, and health issues for young women and girls.

By implementing the project in Ganaja village, Vision Spring Initiatives hoped to improve the menstrual health and hygiene of young women and girls, reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and teenage pregnancy, and promote gender equality and empowerment. VSI also sought to challenge harmful societal norms and beliefs around menstruation, promoting a culture of respect, understanding, and support for young women and girls by forming a support group where they meet regularly to discuss issues related to menstruation and gender-based violence, share experiences, and support one another.

Overall, the project has significantly impacted the lives of young women and girls in the Majidun community and Ganaja village, providing them with the necessary resources and knowledge to access their SRHR with dignity. It has also helped to break down social taboos surrounding menstruation, fostering a more supportive and inclusive environment for all members of the community.

However, much work remains to be done. Vision Spring Initiatives continues to work towards scaling up its interventions to reach more rural communities across Nigeria, recognizing that menstrual health management is a critical component of SRHR and gender equality. By supporting young women and girls to achieve their full potential, VSI hopes to create a brighter future for future generations.

Aanuoluwapo Owoseeni
Vision Spring Initiatives

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