The University of the South Pacific (USP) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) jointly organised an awareness programme on Menstrual Hygiene on 23 May, 2018 at Emalus Campus in Vanuatu.

Bringing together over 50 students, university staff, Government, civil society and private sector representatives, the event aimed to raise awareness of the challenges women and girls face due to their menstruation and highlighted solutions that address these challenges.

The learning event highlighted what organisations and private sector in the Pacific are doing to support women and girls manage their periods.

Mr Ruben Markward, Campus Director, expressed appreciation on behalf of the University to partners, observing that that this was a first for Emalus on this topic and particularly, with the involvement of partners like UNICEF, CARE, World Vision, Save the Children, Mama’s Life and the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education

He encouraged these stakeholders to increasingly consider the University in their operations in Vanuatu, adding that “we would welcome the opportunity to be part of your programmes in future”.

Mr Markward stated that the student headcount for Vanuatu is more than 2,200 and that majority of those students are at Emalus.

“This means that the students and staff combined make up a considerable population that can benefit from activities organised by such partner organisations,” he explained.

He also thanked students and staff for their attendance, adding that this shows their willingness to learn more about the topic.

Mrs Rebecca Olul of UNICEF and Fasiah Taleo from Ministry of Health and World Health Organization (WHO) led questions and answers from the audience.

A series of speakers shared what they are doing to support girls with menstrual hygiene management:

• Annie Benua from ‘Save the Children’ on distributing dignity kits in Ambae that include reusable pads;

• Mary Kalsrap from Mamma’s Laef, a local private sector organization, talked about sewing and selling reusable pads;

• Ellis Lee from ‘World Vision’ shared analysis of recent discussions on menstrual hygiene; and

• Megan Chisolm from CARE shared the actions they have been doing to help girls/women including building toilets and sharing knowledge with girls and provide sanitary pad kits

Mrs Emily Rand, UNICEF, Water and Sanitation Specialist, Vanuatu thanked USP for facilitating the awareness programme and hopes to work with USP again in future.

Dr Krishna Kotra, Science Programme Coordinator, thanked UNICEF for considering USP as a partner in disseminating awareness on Menstrual Hygiene Management and reaffirmed that they are more than welcome to be partnered in all events organised by UNICEF in Vanuatu.