The “Blue Bread”

“ED, this office seems not to be gender sensitive, we have tissue papers but there are no sanitary pads for women” a female colleague said in passing. Hearing this I said what do you mean? Then about 5 ladies pounced on me saying “yes ED we need sanitary pads”. While my brain was still trying to process the connection between the basic provisions that could enhance work and the call for sanitary pads I remembered the blue bread.

Following my challenges of passing my WAEC exam at one sitting (story for the gods) I moved in with my uncle who has 3 grown daughters and a son. Sitting with my sisters was fun. We gist about boys and they send me all kinds of errands. Every month I hear them talk about blue bread. I keep saying to myself why are these sisters not giving me part of the blue bread. I refused to ask them why and I kept managing the situation even though I was angry at their “selfishness”.

Oluseyi, called my sister, please help get blue bread at “omo Ibo’s” place. What is blue bread? I asked, and my sister said just tell “omo Ibo” you want to buy blue bread. Off I ran to “omo Ibo” while also jubilating that today I will know and eat the blue bread. Getting to the store I openly said hello “omo Ibo” I want to buy blue bread. He stretched his hands and picked a sanitary pad. As he was about packing it I said to him I want blue bread, not this. Don’t worry just take it home, he said.

At that moment I didn’t know whether to “enter the ground” or to fly. What a blue bread!!! Nearly 20 years after my colleagues are asking me to approve “blue bread” as consumables for the office. Who does that? Without knowing what to say and wanting to know more, we got into a conversation about sanitary pads. What did I learn?

I learnt how unaffordable sanitary pads are and the challenges of getting quality ones. I was told how cloths are sometimes used to keep the monthly biological process in place. I learnt how some of the products on the market also cause rashes. I learnt a lot that got me worried about affordability of sanitary pads for the average Nigerian girl and woman.

The conversation was revealing, and it got me thinking about period poverty. My colleagues advocated that if condoms could be relatively free so should be sanitary pads as on the average between 1,000 and 1,500 Naira is needed monthly to buy sanitary products. This issue is yet to hit the public consciousness in Nigeria and I think it is time it does. Girls miss school because of period poverty and feel very embarrassed bleeding in their school uniforms because they weren’t “adequately protected”.

A quick online search revealed that there are growing movements around period poverty, from India Cambodia, United Kingdom through to Kenya— it is a global phenomenon with local realities. We can’t afford to overlook this important part of a girl’s life, it shouldn’t be hard to be a girl. Yes, it shouldn’t be hard to have access to affordable “blue bread”.

Now I must think of how to justify to my board why sanitary pads should be on the “exclusive and concurrent list” of my organisation. While I already know my first attempt at getting this approval will be “inconclusive” I certainly know that victory will be sure at the “re-run” only if I can negotiate better and meet the minimum “good governance” conditions and “asks” that will follow.

 

Access to sanitary pad is a right!

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3 Responses to The “Blue Bread”

  1. Femi Diipo October 4, 2018 at 10:56 am

    I’ve always thought about this and hope I can make it happen someday. In every locality in Nigeria there should be a place girls and women can get the “Blue breads” free. It’s just sad that people hardly discuss this anywhere in this country

    Reply
  2. Oyebisi October 4, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    I totally agree with you and hopefully we get a national conversation around this!

    Reply
  3. Samuel October 5, 2018 at 11:34 am

    Just hearing the term blue bread for the first time. I think the matter should be looked into as a whole. The pads are expensive and some women even have excessive bleeding.
    I don’t mind joining the movement.

    Reply

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