The meeting availed the visiting officials the opportunity to share with the first lady the charity’s plan to introduce menstrual pads in The Gambia so that all girls have access. This, they believe, would further ensure that girls do not drop out of school during puberty and instead finish their education.
During the meeting, Manjit K. Gill MBE, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and founder of the Binti Period, said some of the areas her organisation has embarked on include training for 100 teachers in Region 1 & 2 on Menstrual education which she said will be extended to all 7 Regional Education Directorates.
The organisation’s first training objective was to smash the stigma and shame attached to menstruation in line with this year’s theme for IWD2022. “Binti was part of the UK’s Period Taskforce and was leading the way to eradicate period shame whilst normalising the menstrual conversation so that women do not suffer needlessly with menstrual health issues.”
Manjit is also campaigning globally for the provision of period products to be available in all public places.
Also speaking, Alagie Jawara, National Assembly Member for Lower Badibu Constituency expressed gratitude to the first lady for giving the organisation the opportunity to meet her for the second time.
He said that Binti has embarked on a number of important activities since it arrived in The Gambia in 2018.
“The most recent of which is the MOU with the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education to deliver and include Menstrual Health as part of its school curriculum.”
Jawara noted that Binti has trained 100 teachers in both regions 1 and 2, adding that during these trainings, teachers discussed all types of stigma and taboos including those around Polygamy, FGM, sexual grooming and menstrual stigma.
“Many of these topics hinder the children’s capacity to communicate affectively at home and in society much like around the world. They also discovered that the biological word for Menstruation is not known in both Wolof or Mandinka, but due to the shame only code words or language designed not to mention menstruation remains. This situation is very similar around the world where many communities hide away from the menstrual discussion.”
Baba S. Touray, a representative of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education shared with the First Lady the partnership between the organisation and the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education. He thanked both the organisation and the Office of the First Lady on behalf of the Minister and Permanent Secretary of MoBSE.
The four young Binti Ambassadors from St George’s College Weybridge Surrey, UK who are also part of the team as volunteers for the local projects, shared their individual experiences on menstrual education and the importance of understanding puberty at their age and within their school with the First Lady.
For her part, Fatou Bah Barrow, First Lady of The Gambia, returned thanks and appreciation to the visiting delegation, promising to continue to support the charity achieve its goals.
She applauded them for all the work they have been and continue to do in the country.
“The idea of having reusable period products is welcoming as this will ensure access to period products for many girls and women. Although, menstrual education is not new in The Gambia, there is little discussion about empowering the girls to manage their cycles effectively which is the same in many parts of the world including the UK. For that reason and many others such as; poverty, stigma, shame and lack of access to period pads, millions of girls and women are faced with lots of challenges with menstruation including dropping out of school and not knowing what a normal period is.”