First Lady Raises Bar on Women Empowerment -Launches She’s You Menstrual and Personal Hygiene Initiative

First Lady, Mrs. Clar Marie Decontee Weah yesterday, Tuesday, June 9, 2021 elevated her concern for women and girls in the country when she launched the SHE’S YOU MENSTRUAL AND PERSONAL HYGIENE INITIATIVE which aims to empower them  and promote their wellbeing.

“As a Woman, a Mother, a Sister and an Aunt, I care about all of God’s children and continuously strive to seek their welfare. But today, I am here to express my solidarity and support for our Women and Girls, especially those with disabilities, to lead and guide them in advancing their menstrual hygiene as they grow into productive ladies for tomorrow”, Mrs. Weah said.

In a colorful program held at the Centennial Memorial Pavilion in Monrovia, which was attended by her husband, President George Manneh Weah, an array of government officials, foreign diplomats as well as representatives of development partners Mrs. Weah told the audience that the initiative was timely against the background of issues that center around women and girls not being properly addressed and explained about the key issues the project will be focusing on.

“The She’s You Menstrual & Personal Hygiene Initiative espouses the view that dignity is not a luxury; rather, it is a human right. That is why we believe that Menstrual Hygiene is vital to the empowerment and well-being of women and girls worldwide. I am of the firm conviction that it is about more than just access to sanitary pads and appropriate toilets – although these are important”, Mrs Weah said.

She further stated that the project is also about ensuring that women and girls live in an environment that values and supports their ability to manage their menstruation with dignity.  She added that is why the She’s You Movement here in Liberia has vowed to make sure that this becomes a reality.

The First Lady decried the way menstruation is sadly being linked with misconceptions and practices which put many young girls at risk on their health status.

“We acknowledge today that, although menstruation is a natural process, it is sadly linked with many misconceptions and practices, which sometimes result in adverse health outcomes. In fact, in many quarters and corners of our Liberian society, speaking of menstruation is a taboo, a forbidden conversation, which leads to the detriment of many young girls”, She said. Mrs. Weah added that the initiative will positively and constructively raise the bar, bringing this conversation out into the open, to the cognizance and awareness of us all.

The First Lady further stated that the She’s You Menstrual and Personal Hygiene Initiative believes  that women and girls who have a better knowledge regarding menstrual hygiene and safe practices are less vulnerable to Reproductive Tract Infections (RTI) and its consequences.

She observed that increased knowledge about menstruation right from childhood may increase safe practices and may help in mitigating the suffering of millions of women.

“Today, it is reported that millions of women are sufferers of RTI and its implications, and often the infection is transmitted to the offspring of the pregnant mother.  Hygiene-related practices of women during menstruation are therefore of considerable importance, as they have a significant health impact in terms of increased vulnerability to RTI”, The First Lady expanded.

First Lady Weah who has been travelling extensively in some counties and placing women issues at front burner of her engagements said her recent visits in Bomi, Margibi and Grand Bassa counties was an eye opener for her because many young ladies were unaware of the health issues associated with poor hygiene during their menstrual cycles, and what they could do to manage their menstruation with dignity.

In what could be seen as inspiration and reliance from the global perspective, Mrs. Weah said each year, the world celebrates Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28, which according to her is dedicated to bringing awareness around the vital role that good menstrual hygiene management plays in empowering women and adolescent girls worldwide to become all that they can be.

She added that the vision behind Menstrual Hygiene Day is to create a world in which every woman and girl is able to manage her menstruation in a hygienic way, in safety, privacy and with dignity wherever they are. “This is precisely why I have taken up this mantle, especially since my conversations with the girls in Bomi, Margibi and Grand Bassa”, the amiable First Lady said.

The hard working mother of the nation said this year, her Office, the Office of the First Lady of the Republic of Liberia, has decided to collaborate with the Clar Hope Foundation and the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Gender, to elevate the conversation on Menstrual Hygiene with the goal to educate and empower the most vulnerable women and girls, particularly those living with disabilities.

“I am ultra- passionate about this and wish to inform you that our goal for Menstrual Hygiene and the usage of Sanitary Pads and Personal Hygiene Kits for women and adolescent girls is to create an inclusive society where women and girls can share their knowledge and challenges in line with menstruation”, she said.

Linking the menstrual discussion with the gender issues in the country the First Lady said menstruating in dignity is part of the fundamental right of girls and women, who constitute half of the country’s population but their ability to manage their menstruation is influenced by broader gender inequities across Liberia, and can be hindered by the presence of discriminatory social norms, which are exacerbated for women living with disabilities.

“His Excellency, President George Manneh Weah, my husband, who is the Feminist-in–Chief in the Republic of Liberia, has urged our Ministry of Education to design policies and promote practices that would address the menstrual needs of girls and women and ensure that girls stay in school during that time.  We must all understand that where our girls and women are concerned as a nation, we must stand together, for when our girls and women are not well, the health of our nation is in jeopardy”, Mrs. Weah said.

Mrs. Weah’s speech at the occasion which was for a better part punctuated by applauses, was not only highlighting the health challenges the women folks face in the country but it also came with a cheering and breaking news:

“That is why I am very happy today to announce to you that we have been able to receive a gift, a pragmatic gift that will go a long way in changing the lives of women and girls.  The gift, which has been graciously donated by my friend, Dr. Rasha Kelej of the Merck Foundation, is a machine that will enable us to make disposable sanitary pads, right here in Liberia.  Please join me in thanking Dr. Kelej for her kindness and generosity.

The first lady also stated that in order to have a greater outreach activities in the country, the She’s You.

The First Lady stated that in order to have greater outreach activities in the country, the She’s You Movement will establish She’s You Girls Health Clubs in schools and communities across the country to tell the nation that “A period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education”.  The She’s You Girls Health Clubs will serve as a conduit to implement the She’s You Menstrual and Personal Hygiene Initiative.

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