A leading indigenous oil firm, Oriental Energy Resources Limited in conjunction with a non-governmental organization, Aniedi Etim Foundation has doled out about 1000 bags of sanitary pads to girls in JSS 2 and 3 in two secondary schools in oil rich Akwa Ibom state.
The benefiting schools included, Ibesikpo Secondary Commercial School, Nung Udoe in Ibesikpo Asutan local government area and Amayam Community Secondary School, Mbiaso in Ikot Ekpene local government areas respectively.
The program was undertaking under the Girl Child Menstrual Health Education Outreach for Secondary School in Akwa Ibom State, an integral advocacy, sensitization, awareness and empowerment program to mark this year’s menstrual hygiene day with each beneficiary receiving 12 sanitary pads to last for 12 calendar months.
The program is part of the firm’s corporate social responsibility initiative towards fighting period poverty, improving health and promoting gender equality in education, which are in line with United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 3,4 and 5.
Period poverty is a situation where women and girls cannot afford proper menstrual hygiene products due to financial hardship.
Founder of the implementing NGO, Ms Aniedi Etim demonstrated the proper use of the sanitary pads to girls who were largely drawn from JSS 2 and 3.
Besides, students from JSS 2, were also presented with a book, ‘Not a Safe Place’, which highlighted the dangers of child trafficking, child labour and sex slavery, an approved literature text for JSS 2 students in the state.
The epochal events were witnessed by the representatives of the National Agency for the Prohibition in Trafficking , the Ministry of Power and Petroleum Development, traditional instruction, representat8ives of the State Secondary Education Board, the Ministry of Education, among others.
The representatives of National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) carried out sensitization on child trafficking to ensure that the Nigerian child was safe and protected.
The managing director of Oriental Energy Resources Limited, Mr. Mustafa Indimi, said the involvement of the company to combat period poverty showed its practical demonstration of support for Menstrual Hygiene Day which usually takes place around the world on May 28 every year.
Indimi who was represented by the company’s head of government and community relations, Dr. Uwem Ite, said the “Day is normally celebrated and used to highlight the importance of menstrual care and raise awareness about the issues faced by those who do not have access to sanitary products.”
“This is the overriding reason for our sponsorship of this programme for the benefits of
JSS2 and JSS3 girls in this community school.
“Our support for 2022 Menstrual Hygiene Day is also a contribution toward fighting period poverty, improving health and promoting gender equality in education. These issues are all in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 3, 4 and 5 adopted by the United Nations in September 2015.”
Indimi lamented that despite the fact that SDG 5 seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, taboos and myths related to menstruation often portray women and girls as inferior to men and boys, noting ‘this should not be the case or accepted in a modern society as such as ours.’
“Against the above background, the Girl Child Menstrual Health Education Outreach by Oriental Energy Resources Limited is an integrated advocacy, sensitization awareness and empowerment initiative. Among other expected outcomes, adolescent girls will learn how to use clean and disposable menstrual management materials such as sanitary pads. As part of today’s event, we will empower each JSS2 and JSS3 female student with 12 months (one year) supply of sanitary pads.’’
Founder of the implementing NGO, Ms Aniedi Bassey Etim, gave an overview of the outreach program, saying that period poverty was a global problem and that many girls in Nigeria do not have access to health sanitary pads.
She explained that a girl child was vulnerable of dropping out of school and apparently being forced into child labour, early marriage and trafficking, and that her foundation prioritizes menstrual health and female child education.
Etim commended the oil firm for ‘promoting gender equality in education’, adding ‘’an investment in girls education is one of the greatest thing anybody can do and this is what Oriental Energy is doing. If you educate a girl child, you are educating a whole.’’ community.’’
She explained further, ‘’I started by providing female children with pad to enable them go the school. There are very many ways to empower a child. I want people to know that every child is equally if given the necessary training and attention.
“A good number of Nigerian school girls do not know what sanitary pad looks like not to talk about how to use it. Period poverty has led to girls stopping going to school and even dropping out of school to become victim of human trafficking.”
Commissioner for Power and Petroleum Development, Dr. John James Etim, who was represented by a deputy director, petroleum development, Mrs Ofonime Ekwere Sanky, lauded the company for the ‘’noble strides in creating awareness and compliment government efforts in health, education and infrastructure development.’’
The commissioner, however appealed to the oil company to expand the scope of the program to ensure that many school girls benefit from the knowledge about hygiene and healthy living.
The oil firm equally received a groundswell of commendations for the lofty initiative. President of the Alumni of Ibesikpo Secondary Commercial School, Professor Joseph Offiong Udoayang, was effusive in his praise of the firm for dishing out resources to ‘’host and support the girl child outreach by providing menstrual pads to the school.’’
Also, the village head of Ikot Obio Odongo Ibesikpo, HRH Eteidung Edem Muffat Inyang commended the company for a robust Corporate Social Responsibility, noting, ‘’we are therefore grateful to Oriental Energy for considering our community for this important program that is linked to the United Nation Sustainable Development Goal.’’
Similarly, a representative of the State Secondary Education Board, Mrs. Veronica Ekwere was also full of praise for the company describing the initiative as highly commendable which has put smiles on the faces of all and sundry.
Both principals of the benefiting schools, Mrs Comfort Ekpo and her counterpart, Asuabiat Abara also poured encomiums on the company for the benevolence.
In his remarks, the Vice Chancellor of Akwa Ibom State University, Professor Nse Essien who hails from Amayam community noted, ‘’I am happy because it is a good thing and I have to identify with it. This is a great thing for our young people and it enforce the fact that the company has a robust corporate social responsibility to remember girls in local communities.’’
The attendees were treated to rich cultural displays which added clamour to the events.