PESHAWAR: Speakers at a seminar here called for investment in menstrual hygiene management saying it will help many girls return to secondary schools in the province.

They said the lack of access to proper education and resources often forced schoolgirls to stay home during periods and thus, adversely affecting their education.

The speakers said keeping girls in school was not only important for their own health and development but it was also imperative for the success of the entire community.

Blue Veins, a local NGO working to reduce dropout of schoolgirls and advocating better budgetary allocations for girls education, organised the seminar here the other day, which was attended by journalists and bloggers, mostly students.

The participants called for the safety of schoolgirls, better allocation of funds for women’s education, and legislation to bind people to send their daughters to school.

A speaker said when a girl finished secondary school, she was less likely to be married, faced domestic abuse, and suffered long-term health complications.

“Educated girls are more likely to have fewer, healthier children, who are in turn more likely to get an education and pull themselves out of poverty,” he said.

Coordinator of Blue Veins Qamar Nasim said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was the only province, which spent more than 20 per cent of the total budget, which was the highest in Pakistan.

“We are trying our level best to ensure the passage of the law from the provincial assembly to make the girls’ education compulsory.

“Girls tend to miss school six days a month on average due to the inability to manage their menstruation on campus. This eventually contributes towards girls dropping out on reaching puberty and thus, critically undermining their potential as individuals and future workers,” he said.

Mr Naseem demanded that the government end 12 per cent tax on women’s hygiene products.

“Investing in menstrual hygiene management can help get girls back in secondary school in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but feminine hygiene products remain out of reach for the vast majority of poor girls and women, with millions in impoverished rural areas using other unhygienic methods instead.

The lack of proper menstrual hygiene and sanitation is linked to girls dropping out of school and lower productivity in social spaces,” he said.

Education rights activist Zeenat Muhib said girls should not feel ashamed of their healthy, normal development.

She said absence from classrooms during menstruation deprived girls of quality education.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2019