World Menstrual Hygiene Day 2022

Making menstruation a normal fact of life by 2030

Imelda rolled to a fetal position as the pain in her abdomen increased. She clutched her stomach and stifled a groan. She lazied out of bed to get her hot water bottle.

As she turned on the light, she noticed a pimple break out on her left thigh. Her body vibrated with panic, she dashed to the bathroom and splashed water on her thigh, and began massaging in hopes of them disappearing. ‘Just go away.’ She mumbled. The pimples remained. She burst into tears and sat on the covered toilet bowl. ‘I wish you were here, I don’t know what is happening to me. I feel like I am going to be sick like you mom.’

Imelda lost her mom when she was four and since then, it had been just her and her dad. She had yet to tell her dad about the recent happenings in her body because she did not want to alarm him.

Mr. Frank switched off the television and went upstairs, as he passed by Imelda’s room, he noticed the light was still switched on so he knocked at the door, ‘it’s past your bedtime, you have school tomorrow.’ He announced.

Mr. Frank knocked again and when he heard no response, he opened the door. He found her seated on the toilet bowl sobbing. Immediately she looked up, she wiped her eyes. ‘Daddy, I was just…’

‘Why are you crying dear?’ He asked.

She shook her head, ‘I miss mommy.’ She replied.

Mr. Frank pulled her up from the toilet bowl and led her to the room. ‘I will tell you a bedtime story about mom.’ Imelda smiled and at moment the pain and fear that coursed through her halted.

*****

Imelda placed her head on the table at the cafeteria during lunchtime. Modupe handed her a cupcake, ‘it’s my brother’s birthday.’ Modupe smiled. ‘The party is this weekend and you are invited.’ Imelda was about to take it when she felt a blunt pain in her lower stomach. She gritted her teeth and shook her head. ‘Thanks, but I’ll pass.’

‘Are you still feeling sick?’

‘Yes.’ She replied. ‘I had to force myself to come to school because of the Maths test.’

Modupe patted Imelda’s back and placed the cupcake back inside the box. As soon as she started eating, Imelda stood. ‘I will be at the sickbay.’ She said. Immediately she stood, a sea of murmurs broke out. Imelda took guarded steps, wondering what was responsible for the murmurs. She thought to herself. Is my zip bad? She ran her hand through it and heaved a sigh of relief. It is not the zip, then what?

‘Imelda is leaking like a pot of spoilt stew.’ Abel yelled, contorting his face and pointing at Imelda.

‘Yuck! So disgusting. It just had to be in the cafeteria of all places.’ Tobi a boy seated beside Abel snorted. ‘My food is polluted.’

The cafeteria became noisy with laughter and giggles. Imelda examined her grey skirt and saw the bloodstain. She hid her face in her palms and scurried to the door.

Modupe rushed after her and handed Imelda her sweater. ‘Welcome to the club.’ She squealed in excitement…

‘Why are you happy over my humiliation?’

‘You should not be humiliated over a normal occurrence in your body. It is as normal as the air we breathe, so own it. I’ve always thought Abel was a dumbo and today, he made that clear.’

‘You bleed too?’ Imelda asked. ‘I thought I was sick.’

Modupe nodded, ‘Every woman does. It’s officially two months since I saw my first period.’

‘I had no idea. Maybe if mom was here she would have prepared me.’

Modupe hugged her, ‘I know but I am sure your dad will have some answers too. And you can always spend your next period at my house and we can have the baby girl treatment.’

‘Thank you so much. I think he tried to tell me many times before but didn’t know how to start. So, I’m going to ask him today. Thank you.”

Arm in arm, they went to the nurse to get some pads and pain killers.

*****

At the cafeteria, minutes after the giggles died down, Daniel nudged Abel, ‘Why did you humiliate Imelda? Couldn’t you see how uncomfortable she already was? Don’t you have a mom or a sister?’ He asked. ‘You are so stupid. How do you think women have children? ‘

‘Whatever.’ Abel replied, shrugging. ‘But I heard period blood is dirty blood.’

‘You are silly. It is a pity I can’t help your ignorance.’ Daniel resumed eating and Tobi pinched his nose in disgust.

Farida shook her head as she listened to their conversation. She resisted the urge to drag Abel and Tobi by the ear and force them to apologize to Imelda but she had bigger fish to fry.

She waved at Daniel as she passed their table on her way to the principal’s office.

‘Good afternoon, Sir.’

‘How are you doing Farida?’ Mr. Reginald asked.

‘I am fine, I wanted to discuss something that just happened at the cafeteria.’

Mr. Reginald looked up and removed his glasses. ‘I am all ears.’

Farida narrated what happened with Imelda, and Mr. Reginald furrowed his brows. She had not even finished narrating when he yelled. ‘Get me, Abel and Tobi, I will make them scapegoats to serve as a deterrent to other students.’

‘No sir.’ She shook her head. ‘I think educating the whole school that menstruation is a normal occurrence in women and girls and not some disease will yield better results.’

Mr. Reginald nodded, ‘Amazing, that is a wonderful idea. We can organize a seminar. The school nurse will anchor it.’

*****
Menstruation is a natural and healthy occurrence for many young girls and women around the world. Menstruation occurs monthly in most women and girls for about 2 to 7 days. It is an important aspect of reproduction as the menstrual cycle prepares the body for pregnancy.

According to UNICEF, around half of the female population (in the world) is of reproductive age. As important as menstruation is in reproduction, it is still stigmatized all over the world. It is treated like a disease and most girls and boys are denied the opportunity to learn about it. It is appalling that women and girls have been denied the right to learn about their bodies. Boys and men are taught to be repulsed by it and girls and women are taught to be ashamed of it.

But menstruation could perhaps be likened to metamorphosis which is normal and essential. Who would see a caterpillar bloom into a butterfly and frown in disgust? Obviously an ignorant person. Sadly, gender inequality and toxic customs/traditions are common reasons for stigmatization against menstruation. This negatively impacts the quality of life of women and girls. It makes them keep silent when they’re on their period or experiencing complications. It also denies girls and women access to quality sanitary materials like pads and tampons.

We need to destigmatize menstruation because it is a normal aspect of life. Girls and women have the right to be free from discrimination about something that makes life continue. They have to stop feeling like they should be silent or hide when they are on their periods.

Let’s destigmatize menstruation. The way we can do that is to start talking about menstruation it in our offices, schools, markets, bus parks, etc. Let’s demystify it and stop talking about in hush hush tones like it’s something to be ashamed of. Menstruation is not a crime. I’m challenging you today to make the change. Making menstruation normal by 2030 begins with you.

International Day of the Boy Child 2022

International Day of the Boy Child

Today is the International Day of the Boy Child. The International Day of the Boy Child is a day set aside to create awareness on the issues concerning the boy child. It highlights how we can groom and mentor boys in order to have a truly gender-equal world. This year’s theme focuses on boosting optimism, restoring self-worth.

What leads to the issue of low self-esteem for boys?

1. Societal expectation: From a young age, boys are expected to outperform girls. They are reprimanded and made to feel small when they get lower grades than their female counterparts. This makes them feel threatened by female success and gender equality.

2. Socialization: The typical man is seen as fierce, brave, and strong. He shows no weakness or remorse. He’s a born leader. Boys are groomed to become these kinds of men. Thus, they are not expected to cry or show any sign of emotion. This raises men with low self-esteem who associate expressing human emotions with femininity.

3. Peer pressure: This stems from societal expectation and socialization but it’s mostly seen among peers, especially teenagers. In secondary schools, boys pressure each other into doing things that they shouldn’t or growing up faster than they should. Boys who refuse to participate in teenage drinking, partying, casual sex, and all the rest are usually seen as old-fashioned and ridiculed. This leads to low self-esteem in some boys.

How can we help boys in restoring their self-esteem?

1. By raising boys differently: Instead of pitting them against women, let’s encourage and applaud their efforts. Let’s stop taking jabs at their self-worth each time they fall short of unnecessary expectations. Rather, let us be glad that they gave their best.

2.Mentoring and advocacy: Boys need the right models to show them the way. Mentoring and advocacy are the right channels to make this happen. Men who are successful and embrace gender equality can take it upon themselves to champion this cause. By creating awareness about peer pressure and these societal expectations, they can make things a lot easier for the boys and boost their optimism.

Teaching boys that it is okay to be human: From the cradle, boys need to know and be in touch with their emotions. They need to understand that being expressive is not feminine. This means that they can cry when they feel like it and it’s not wrong.

Conclusion

I am putting this out as a challenge to us all especially the men among us. As people who want things to get better in the world, we need to step up our efforts and change the narrative. Don’t repeat the cycle of pressure and unnecessary expectations you suffered. Let’s do better with our boys and raise them the right way. By boosting optimism and restoring self-worth, we will create a truly gender-equal world.

Birthday Reflections 2022

Happy birthday to my twin brother and me. I am grateful for all that has happened, and for everything that has led me to this beautiful milestone in my existence — essentially, I am indebted to God for my life, for His Direction and All-merciful Hand in bringing me this far.

As a habit, I reflect on my previous year every time I blow out the candles on a new age. This year is no different, and I would like to reflect on my Christian journey.

People who know me off social media, and several of my ardent followers on social media would agree that I am quite passionate about my spirituality — I acknowledge my God in all that I do, and I do not shy away from talking about Him as often as I can.

Coming to America, so many people surmised me my faith would suffer, because over here, most of our prayer requests (as Nigerians) have been settled by an effective system — roads are not death holes, power or water supply is hardly interrupted, and if one buckled down as and when due, one would take care of all one’s needs. Thus, it was easy for people to guesstimate that when I settle down here, I’d hardly hold on to any defensible reasons to have an enduring faith in God, pray, or regularly attend church.

I laughed it off at the time, because it didn’t occur to me that many people prayed for their selfish reasons only. Different realities and all, I guess. I am a soulful human who cherishes quietude and thrives in serene ambiances. These encourage me to meditate. So, I can say I pray because I derive intangible pleasures and indescribable, soul-lifting, satisfactions and heavenly connection from it. I do not supplicate God like an average Nigerian with series of hustles and worries on their mind — He is my Creator, One I seek to obey and worship at all times; not just when I am inconvenienced or needy. Majority of my prayers aren’t predicated on requests or demands, but rather on building intimacy and deep love for my God, that regardless of the wind of lukewarmness that may blow wherever I am, I still keep the fire, His fire burning. So, it’s quite fallacious to conjecture I cannot humbly entreat my Father because “the system works better where I am”.

When I arrived here, I could feel my faith even more rekindled. I became more intentional about my spiritual growth. These days, I spend more time meditating, praying and reading my Bible than I used to. I must admit though, the church services were a lot different from what I was exposed to. Thus, for a while, I actually struggled. I was bereft of the drive to attend church when I just arrived. It felt like a routine, and I all I felt, deep within me, was an unfillable emptiness afterwards.

I found it so hard adjusting to the new style of service because I was practically used to the Nigerian system. That notwithstanding, I knew if I really wanted to get the best of fellowshipping with others, I had to snap out of it. Ergo, I outted myself to some brethren who had been here before me — they were the impeccable guides through whom I navigated that tough phase. There was no praise or dancing like we had in our churches back home. What we had were worship sessions, and all one had to do was lift one’s hands in adoration to God. I had to adapt to it, and with time, I started to look forward to attending church services like I used to in Nigeria.

I must say, though, that since my arrival, I have experienced one great spiritual encounter after another. I have seen God move so mightily on my behalf, and I am so glad that I have never forgot to put God first. I particularly bless God for friends who are watchers covering me in prayers, His stewards keeping me in check. I thank God for the gift of friends who hold my hands when the tides are inclement. I thank God for the community of believers I got to know. It has actually been a great experience. I thank God for people who have shown me kindness, and I am in awe of them. I am growing daily and as they say, yesterday’s depth is shallow. I have got to go deeper still.

God’s unwavering faithfulness towards me, the time and seasons notwithstanding? Never in doubt. It’s been such a grace-filled journey steeped in a lot of wins. I dare not take credit for any of His good deeds. May I never ridicule the Grace and Mercy of God over my life that I would attribute my successes as products of my human efforts. God forbid. If not for God, I would be lost today. So, to Him, I owe it all, the very thread of my existence and all that sum me up.

It is my solemn wish that with my voice, my actions, and my life in its entirety, more people may be inspired to serve Jesus and live according to His dictates. I pray that may my actions and inactions continue to demonstrate and validate that I am a believer who lives for her God despite all conditions.


I look forward to more amazing things that He is set to do for and through me in this new year.
New gates are opened to His Glory, and old doors are shut on the times that I might ever have failed to live up to His expectations.

World Poetry Day 2022 – Celebrating Womanhood

World Poetry Day is celebrated on the 21st of March every year. To commemorate this event, I will be dedicating it to the celebration of womanhood and I will be posting a poem by Aina Ayomide.

A woman’s Anthem

I am fire and I am fuel
More than my body
I am never too much and always enough
Unlike anybody
I am the most stunning of all God’s creations
And I stand second to none

So when they say;
Happy is he whose children are males and woe to him whose children are females
Raise your voice higher and say;
Relevance and irrelevance are not functions of gender but your cap’s feathers

And whenever they raise their voice to say;
“She’s a vice, a vixen, and a problem to solve”
Raise your voice higher and say
Who should be first and who goes next isn’t yours to say
“You are the head and not the tail” is what God had to say
And problems are never in His image, only solutions are!

-Aina Ayomide
(C)2022

International Day Women’s Day 2022 Event

And it was a resounding success. It was a fantastic team effort among American Corner Ikeja, Boundless Hands Africa Initiative for Women & Children, African Entrepreneurship Support and Mentorship Program, Wire A and Roseline Initiative. Thank you to every one of the panelists and others who gave insightful talks on climate change and renewable energy. Thank you for accepting our invitation, Victoria Ibiwoye, Rinmicit Aboki, Toritjesu Okanlawon, and Chief Mrs. Anita Okunribido.

In addition, 22 women were honored for their contributions and impact in diverse fields. We hope that young girls will continue to see role models in women who are accomplishing amazing things in the future.

Looking forward to making more impact next year.

International Women’s Day 2022 (Five books you can do an Ecofeminist Reading of from a Nigerian Perspective)

It is International Women’s Day. This year’s theme is Gender Equality today for a Sustainable Tomorrow. For 2022, the UN is focusing on recognizing the contribution of women and girls around the world, who are at the forefront of climate change adaptation, mitigation, and response, to build a more sustainable future for all. As a result, the praxis of my discourse today will be centered on Ecofeminism.

What is Ecofeminism? According to www.britannica.com, “ecofeminism, also called ecological feminism, branch of feminism that examines the connections between women and nature. Its name was coined by French feminist Françoise d’Eaubonne in 1974. Specifically, this philosophy emphasizes the ways both nature and women are treated by patriarchal society.

As a literature student, I will be highlighting five books that one can do an ecofeminist reading of particularly from the Nigerian perspective.

1. Yellow-Yellow by Kaine Agary. Yellow-Yellow is a story about a biracial girl raised by her single Nigerian mother. Zilafeya’s mother ‘Bibi’ works hard to provide her daughter with the highest education possible so that her daughter doesn’t make the same mistakes she made. The mixed girl, Zilafeya, wants to leave her village and with her pastor’s help, she moves to Port Harcourt and starts a new life under the watchful eyes of Sisi and Lolo. It’s a book that deals with female sexuality, racial identity, poverty, corruption, and the Niger-Delta oil issues. It’s a thought-provoking read and would make you hungry for more works by Kaine Agary.

2. Oil on water by Helon Habila: Two journalists, young Rufus and an experienced Zaq, navigate polluted rivers in search of the truth about the white woman that has been kidnapped. These two bite off more than they can chew as they encounter the brutality of militants and government soldiers. Their story is filled with suspense and numerous twists and turns. In the end, they find that it is the kindness of strangers and other non-journalistic values that save them.

3. After the flood by Wale Okediran: The story is set after the Ogunda flood. Convinced by her friend Nana, Sade takes a night off and goes to a night party. She returns the next day to find that the Ogunda River had overrun its bank the previous night causing havoc in the community. Now, her maid dead, and Tomi, her three-month-old is missing! Bitter, Stanley, her husband, blames her for their loss and sends her away. Sade is filled with regrets and guilt about what has happened. However, she is determined to take her life back. Sade finds her life in tatters, tormented by self-guilt at the loss of her son, rejected by her so she embarks on a search with the hope that she can turn things around in her family and make them happy again.

4. The Activist by Tanure Ojaide is a compelling story set in the Niger Delta of Nigeria. It portrays environmental degradation, the schemes of multinational oil companies, poverty, and corruption among people in the community. In this story, the activist struggles to make things right for his community. He leaves his home abroad to join his people’s agitation for a safer community. It is a story of sacrifice and courage and mirrors the ills faced by people in that region. It emphasizes the need for us to have the government’s accountability to the people. It also shows us why we need to have a government that is beneficial to the masses.

5. Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away by Christie Watson is another beautifully written story set in the Niger Delta. It talks about of a family’s attempt to survive a new life, struggling to redefine themselves along the way. It’s a story that cuts across various themes of infidelity, peer pressure, religion, poverty, and female genital mutilation. When a woman catches their father cheating, she takes her two children (Blessing and Ezekiel) to a village in the Niger Delta, to live with their mother’s family. There is no running water or electricity in the village much to the teen children’s disappointment. Worse still, their mother has to work all day and so the teenagers are left unsupervised and at the mercy of their peers, and their grandparents. As she begins to settle in, Blessing starts to fully understand the internal and external threats facing their village.

These books are great reads and would give you an insight into feminism in Africa especially the relationship between feminism, women, and the environment. I hope that you will read it and recommend it to your friends. Feel free to share your thoughts if you have read any of them and leave a comment below. You can also add more to the list.

World Day of Social Justice 2022

Today is World Day of Social Justice, a day set aside by the UN to promote poverty eradication, by the promotion of full employment and decent work, universal social protection, gender equality, and social justice for all. This year’s theme is achieving social justice through formal employment. The idea behind this is that when we formalize employment, we reduce poverty and inequalities faster.

Informal employment is employment with no full employee benefits. A good number of Nigeria’s employed population is engaged in informal employment. These workers are usually hired by word of mouth and can be fired at any time the same way. They have no employee rights, and little or no holidays. They are not protected by any labour laws because there’s no proof that they are employed by the organization. This percentage of people, mostly women, are most likely to be affected when there is an economic meltdown. This is why we should champion the transition from informal to formal employment.

Why do people engage in informal employment? Most women have no choice. The unemployment rate, lack of opportunities in the formal economy, their caregiving role, and sometimes, family or societal dynamics play a huge factor. They may also be living in a location that they are unwilling to relocate from. Hence, they are forced to pick up these low-paying informal jobs that have no security and no incentives.

Women also seem to be more affected by this inequality because they have been conditioned (by upbringing) to be content and quiet even when a situation is not favourable. They have learned to take what they’re given instead of reaching out for more or asking for what they’re worth. This is one barrier I am passionate about tackling. I want more women to shatter stereotypes and make demands in their workplace. I want women to know their worth, apply for jobs they’re qualified for, negotiate their pay, and be appreciated for the job they do. I want women to know that they deserve to be valued.

Can we make things better for women? In addition to advocacy and creating awareness, I strongly believe that legislation can be put in place to make this transition from informal to formal contexts easier. If a staff member is qualified, putting in the work, and providing value for the organization, she should be made a formal staff within a specific (short-term) time frame. This time frame will depend on the company size and how soon they can provide full employment benefits. That way, we would level the playing field, ensure social justice and protect our women from poverty and starvation in economic crises.

World Radio Day 2022

It is World Radio Day, a day set aside by UNESCO in 2011 to celebrate the evolution of radio and the role it plays in spreading of information and fostering networking and communication around the world. This year’s theme is Radio and Trust and I would love to x-ray this in light of gender equality.

From the invention of the radio till date, the radio has been the most trusted source of information to people all over the world. Although old and not the only means of spreading news and communicating to groups and communities today, the radio has stood the test of time. Lots of people have trust that what they hear on the radio is authentic and important despite the decline in trust for social media and the internet. The radio has also been the most accessible mode of communication especially in places where people are uneducated and have little access to modern tech or other modes of communication. In these places, it has been used effectively to create awareness and provide timely solutions.

Although women living in these regions may not own personal radios, they access information because of the radio. As a result, healthcare facilities and nonprofit organizations sponsor jingles, programs and give announcements from time to time to highlight issues concerning women’s health, maternal and child care, women empowerment, personal hygiene, entrepreneurship, and so on. This information empowers women to live healthily, care for their families, start-up businesses, learn a skill, make more informed decisions and be independent. They also encourage women’s involvement in politics.

This goes to say that if you want to reach more women, you shouldn’t just stick with modern means of communication like the internet or social media. You should be on the radio also and be there as much as you can because the radio is a cost-effective far-reaching way to empower women and create the change you want to see. By using the radio, you take advantage of the trust people have for this agelong mode of transmission and the coverage. You won’t just be reaching women in your cyberspace or those in your immediate community. You can reach women in interior villages, women who may never see the light of day without your words. So, don’t hesitate to walk into any radio station and plan to collaborate with them this year. Your voice, jingles, programs will go where your tweets and blogs won’t. I believe that if we are going to win the war against gender inequality, we need to get everyone (both educated and uneducated) involved because none of us are equal until we all are. Happy World Radio Day!

International Women’s Day 2022 Loading

Roseline Initiative in partnership with American Corner Ikeja Lagos, Boundless Hands Africa Initiative and African Entrepreneurship Support and Mentorship Program, Wire A presents International Women’s Day 2022.

Theme: Break The Bias: Gender Equality for a Sustainable Tomorrow.

By joining forces to support the work of women creatives, we can collectively break the bias that inhibits women.

This can only be accomplished if we picture a world that is diverse, equal, and inclusive; a world that values and celebrates diversity.

It is time to celebrate female leaders who are defying gender stereotypes in every way possible.

Please register at the link below to participate in this year’s event.

https://forms.gle/grCepN4MQGcZxUNU9

Thank you.

#IWD #IWD2022 #BreaktheBias #GenderEquality

The 22 of 2022 Female Achievers Recognition – International Women’s Day 2022

Roseline Initiative in partnership with American Corner Ikeja Lagos, Boundless Hands Africa Initiative and African Entrepreneurship Support and Mentorship Program, Wire A presents:

22 of 22 FEMALE ACHIEVERS RECOGNITION

In commemoration of The International Women’s Day, The 22 of 2022 Female Achievers Recognition is a chance to recognize female achievers who are breaking bias in their respective sectors, and they will be recognized globally for their achievemnts and impact in the community.

Do you know any female achievers who are breaking bias in any of the sectors below, and can attend the physical event in Lagos, Nigeria on March 8th?

If you do, please consider nominating her for this award in one of the categories listed below.

-Climate Change
-Agriculture
-Renewable Energy
-Community Development
-Education
-Social Development
-Entrepreneurship
-Technology

Kindly nominate your Female Achiever via link below

https://forms.gle/82hxhxvCwV6MMbAi6

Note that: Priority will be given to only those who can be present at the venue.

#IWD #IWD2022 #BreaktheBias