Meet menstrual hygiene champions for women living with disabilities
By Lilian Kaivilu
As the world marks Menstrual Hygiene Day today, we speak to Victo Nalule and Sylvia Mochabo who are advocating for the inclusion of people living with disabilities in the menstruation policies.
“If I had a choice, I would have my menses over a weekend. That way, I will not have to move around on my wheelchair during work hours,” says Victo Nalule, founder of Tunaweza Foundation in Uganda.
According to the Mandela Washington fellow who runs advocacy sessions on the rights of people living with disabilities in Uganda, managing menstrual hygiene for such people is an uphill task.
It is a delicate balance for women living with different kinds of disabilities as they have to choose between help and maintaining their privacy and dignity. Those in public spaces such as schools without necessary amenities suffer the most. “People with severe disabilities have to be helped to the toilet. It must be tough for such girls when they start their menstruation,” says Victo. She urges policy makers to put in place measures to address not just menstrual hygiene but also dignity for such girls.
In order to reduce the stigma on women living with disabilities, Victo, through Tunaweza Foundation, carries out advocacy sessions to sensitize people on human rights. “There is so much stigma on people living with disabilities. As an organization, Tunaweza Foundation has been holding sessions in Uganda to educate the public that people living with disabilities are just like any other person.” The organization also provides sanitary towels to grade seven learners in Uganda.
As the world marks Menstrual Hygiene Day today, different stakeholders are asking for a keen consideration for menstrual hygiene management policies for people living with different types of disabilities.
According to Sylvia Mochabo, the founder of Andy Speaks for Special Needs Persons, there are great gaps in information access and education for women and girls living with disabilities.
A day with a cerebral palsy child on a wheelchair in town, she notes, can be quite a challenge. This is due to the fact that most public toilets in the central business district lack disability provisions. There is need for more effective inclusion of people with different types of disabilities. According to Mochabo, there is need for a more simplified way of communication menstrual hygiene and general sex education to this group of people. “Care givers also feel frustrated because there is no guide on how to educate their girls on the same. We have so many being taken advantage of just because they cannot speak for themselves,” she says.