“I want to be a male champion for Menstrual Health Management (MHM) for my school”, Mr. Matia says.
Mr. Matia is principal at the Visale Primary school.
Today marks World Menstrual Hygiene Day and Visale Primary School is joining Plan International and Live and Learn as well as millions of people around the world in celebrating this day.
The story for Visale Primary School advocating for MHM began on Global Menstrual Hygiene Day, 28th May, 2019.
“I had some idea of what MHM was, but not until my school celebrated the Global Menstrual Hygiene Day [in 2019] that I fully understood the impacts it has on girls when in school. I want to be the male champion for MHM for my school and I look forward to seeing all teachers in my school to be fully across MHM and to become strong MHM advocators” said Mr. Matia.
Mr. Matia became an enthusiastic advocate for MHM, prompted by the candid discussions and jovial atmosphere of a drama performance which highlighted the fundamental importance of enabling girls to manage their menstruation with pride.
He became engaged with Plan and Live & Learn staff teacher training on Gender, social inclusion and menstrual hygiene management (MHM) through the Water for Women project’s WASH in Schools approach.
In the space of 12 months, Mr. Matia has gone a long way to creating the supportive environment for girls that he believes in.
The school now stocks sanitary pads to be sold at the school canteen, with emergency supplies made available at the school office, school toilet facilities were rehabilitated and bins are now provided in ablution blocks for safe disposal of pads.
“I also want my school to become a role model for other schools in how we support our girls and MHM”, Mr. Matia said.
A 12 year old student at Mr. Matia’s school was also interested to learn more about MHM having reached menarche this year.
She has been using disposable pads from the shops and when shown the reusable pads, she thought it was really neat to have a pad that can be washed multiple times and reused.
Another 12 year old male student at the school noted that when he was approached to participate in MHM activities, he was really shy. When grouped with his peers to discuss MHM, he said “all along I was taught that it was tambu [taboo] to talk about ‘girl’s sick’, but now that I know more about it, I will make sure that I will also spread the same message to my uncles and other male relatives so that they are also aware of it”.
No longer are there embarrassed giggles when MHM is being discussed. Even boys in class are invited to see for themselves and learn how girls use reusable pads.
Younger students learn by realizing all questions are good questions and Mr. Matia does his very best to encourage all of his teachers to be MHM champions in their own classrooms as well.
Plan International and partner, Live & Learn Environmental Education is working with Solomon Islands Ministry of Education, school principals, teachers and students to improve knowledge about menstrual hygiene and improving access to WASH facilities for girls and teachers to manage their menstruation hygienically and with dignity.
Plan International is calling on governments and health agencies to urgently assist girls, women and people who menstruate to manage their periods safely and with dignity.