KARACHI   -  In a bid to address the high prevalence of Menstrual Health and Hygiene (MHH) challenges amongst adolescent girls of Pakistan and for raising mass awareness in the regard, ‘No Chutti Plus’ campaign launched on Tuesday.

Sindh Minister for Women Development Syeda Shehla Raza, inaugurated the campaign that also aimed at countering the social taboos associated with menstrual health by raising awareness on the subject.

The campaign was launched by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and hygiene products company Santex in collaboration with the Sindh School Education and Literacy Department. Senior officials of the provincial government, Chief Field Officer UNICEF (Sindh), Vanessa Lee and Director Operations, Santex Products, Feroz Mujtaba Rahman attended the launching ceremony.

Syeda Shela Raza addressing at the occasion stressed on need of educating adolescent girls about MHH and said that stigma and ignorance related to MHH can be a serious health hazard. “We need to raise awareness about safe menstrual health practices and make hygiene products accessible to adolescent girls,” she said adding that menstrual health and hygiene remained a taboo subject and there was a culture of silence surrounding women’s reproductive health, including menstruation.

She termed it imperative to talk about it and take action to improve girls’ access to the knowledge, tools and facilities they needed to manage menstrual hygiene with dignity and confidence as risks associated with poor hygiene could directly affect reproductive health.

Deputy Representative for UNICEF in Pakistan, Dr. Inoussa Kaboure, in his video message, reiterated UNICEF commitment to support initiatives by the Government of Pakistan and all stakeholders for ensuring that young women are well aware and prepared for the onset of menstruation as it concerns their health, self-esteem and overall development.

It is estimated that almost two-thirds of teenage girls in Pakistan are ignorant about menstruation before they get their first period.

 One of the reasons that an estimated 15 million female students are out of school in the country is because adolescent girls are unable to safely manage their periods.

Girls often miss school because of shame or lack of adequate facilities to manage their menstrual period as schools lack proper hygiene facilities while at the same time teachers are often not prepared to respond to girls’ inquiries about menstruation.

Director Operations, Santex Products, Feroz Mujtaba Rahman, emphasized the need to push the MHH agenda in Pakistan and maintained that MHH is a basic human right of the children and the young people.

He said that Period-Poverty leads to low self-esteem, social exclusion and absenteeism and by not giving enough care or concern to the prevalent issues future of millions of girls being endangered.