ActionAid Liberia Supports Female Inmates at Gbarnga Central Prison with Sanitary Pads and Hygiene Kits

By: Matalay Kollie, Bong County Correspondent Gbarnga

Gbarnga-June 5, 2024: In support of female inmates managing their menstrual periods and in commemoration of World Menstrual Hygiene Day, ActionAid Liberia, through its “Youth Humanitarian Movement and Sexual Reproductive Health Network,” has donated sanitary pads and menstrual hygiene items to female inmates at the Gbarnga Central Prison.

Background on ActionAid Liberia: ActionAid Liberia, a member of the global ActionAid organization, has been active in Liberia for over two decades. The organization focuses on various humanitarian efforts, including education, women’s rights, and disaster response. Its initiatives are aimed at empowering marginalized communities and ensuring social justice.

The Youth Humanitarian Movement of ActionAid Liberia focuses on providing aid to those affected by crises, while the Sexual Reproductive Health Network emphasizes menstrual hygiene management. Garmai T. Yarsiah, the Humanitarian Movement Coordinator, noted that since 2022, they have been providing dignity kits, including sanitary pads and hygiene materials, to incarcerated women at South Beach.

In 2024, they shifted their focus to Bong County. She highlighted the need to assist returnees currently housed at the regional camp in Sergeant Kollie’s Town, Bong County. “We will be responding soon. We have assessed the needs on the ground and are finalizing our resource mobilization,” Garmai noted.

Significance of World Menstrual Hygiene Day: Celebrated annually on May 28, World Menstrual Hygiene Day highlights the importance of menstrual health to the overall physical, mental, and social well-being of women and girls. Initiated by the German-based NGO WASH United in 2014, the day is observed globally to break the silence, raise awareness, and change negative social norms surrounding menstrual health.

Impact of Donations: The donated items included sanitary pads, toothbrushes, toothpaste, bath soap, “Ghana Must Go” bags, and cartons of Clorox and Dettol. Each of the fifteen female inmates at the Gbarnga Central Prison received five packs of sanitary pads, four toothbrushes, two tubes of toothpaste, six bars of bath soap, and a “Ghana Must Go” bag. Additionally, ActionAid Liberia presented two cartons of Dettol and Clorox to the prison management for treating the inmates’ bathwater.

The donations significantly impact the daily lives of the inmates. One inmate expressed, “These items make a big difference. Before, we had to manage with very little, and it was tough during our periods. Now, at least we have some comfort and can maintain better hygiene.”

Challenges Faced by Female Inmates: Female inmates often face significant challenges regarding menstrual hygiene in prison. Limited access to menstrual products can lead to poor hygiene, infections, and severe discomfort, exacerbating the stress and isolation of prison life.

Future Initiatives: ActionAid Liberia plans to continue its support for female inmates and expand its reach to other prisons across the country. They are also working on launching educational programs within the prison to raise awareness about menstrual health and hygiene.

Statistical Data: According to a study by the United Nations, around 500 million women and girls globally lack adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene management. In many developing countries, including Liberia, the situation is worse in prisons, where resources are limited, and menstrual health is often overlooked.

Call to Action: ActionAid Liberia urges other humanitarian organizations and individuals to support similar initiatives. Those interested in contributing can contact ActionAid Liberia directly for more information on how to donate or volunteer.

Government’s Role: Superintendent Richard Z.K. Mulbah emphasized the need for government intervention. “We urge the government to provide funding for rehabilitation programs that equip inmates with skills for reintegration into society,” Mulbah said. “Organizing such programs would empower inmates and help them rebuild their lives.

Superintendent Mulbah commended ActionAid Liberia for the timely donation and called for continued support. “This donation is a significant help to our female inmates. We hope more organizations will follow ActionAid’s example.”

The sanitary materials were directly handed to each inmate during the presentation, ensuring that all received the necessary supplies to manage their menstrual health with dignity.

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