by The Guardian Saturday Magazine
In what could be tagged a ‘Five in One’ event, PadMan Initiative recently hosted young people from different parts of Lagos to empowerment sessions. Hosted by Tracka, the initiative include celebration of World Menstrual Hygiene Day, World Environment Day, UN’s Barbershop Conference, Side Event of the European Development Days and Lagos at 50.
Through the initiative tagged Act Like a Man-Act Like a Woman, the promoters are creating a new advocacy drive for eco-friendly Menstrual Hygiene Kit in its flagship programme for investment in school girls, while also empowering the school boys using the Barbershop Conference.
According to Chaste Inegbedion, chief responsibility officer of Giving Garage and executor of World Merit 360 Action Plan 003, the goal of the initiative is to empower 232,000 schoolgirls within public schools in the 774 local councils in Nigeria by 2020. The group aims to achieve this through the provision of eco-friendly reusable pads and capacity building on menstrual hygiene management and reproductive health for improved performance and self-esteem.
“With this announcement, we are engaging the media, private sector, international agencies and the Digital ecosystem, which is like everywhere else and maybe even more than elsewhere, carries with it a development challenge most especially our participation at Merit 360 in the United Kingdom,” he said.
He informed that Tracka was established to address the critical issues with social and economic development in Nigeria, which is lack of the people inclusion in developmental projects, increasing number of abandoned projects and poor execution of the few projects implemented.
“Now, they are adding their voice to the works of Pad Man Initiative,” he said.
A dedicated team from Plethora Works, The Girls Show, Sanitary Aid for Nigerian Girls, Global Shapers, Mandela Washington Fellowship, One Smile Foundation and National Youth Service Corps Sanitation CDs facilitated the event with the students, while Akinlaja Oludare of Yadaversity moderated the session.
On the involvement of boys in the project, Inegbedion explained, “We can’t leave out the men and the boys. They are a big part of the problem. If there is violence, most likely there is a man around. We always shout about the drought of leadership, but quality education is that bridge to building quality leaders. The Barbershop event is a response to an invitation to men to join in the gender equality conversation hoping it will build on the HeForShe campaign in Nigeria, which has so far encouraged 204,978 men to pledge their support to the cause globally.”
“We are glad to have led the session with Male Corps from the Sanitation CDS from Ikoyi/Obalende LG venue for the event where three schools was represented Girls Senior Secondary Grammar School, Ireti Boys and Aunty Ayo,” Akinboye Akinpelumi, President, NYSC Sanitation CDS said.
Seun Kuti, youngest son of legendary afrobeat originator, Fela, was impressed seeing the men stepping up their efforts to address their role in gender equality. But, he added, “I ask the school boys at the Barbershop Conference to think about what they can do to help resource the hands that do the heavy lifting when it comes to gender equality. Women’s hands, that’s.”