Posted May 8, 2017 from Uganda
Menstrual Hygiene Management for Girls in and out of School
Zero absenteeism for girls to school, our health our strength and our growth and development

In many developing countries, women and girls often lack access to basic hygienic products and facilities such as toilets, clean water and soap necessary for good menstrual management. Many girls resort to improvised materials like scraps of old clothing, leaves, banana fibers and even rocks to manage their menstruation. Yet, the consequences of this can be more widespread than momentary discomfort. One study focused on East Africa found that only 51% of adolescent school girls had knowledge of menstruation and management, and 58% of girls indicated that school performance and attendance had declined after their first menstruation (Tegegne & Sisay, BMC Public Health, 2014).Faced with embarrassing leaks, bodily odors that lead to social exclusion, and a susceptibility to recurrent infections, menstruating girls often opt to stay at home, missing up to two months of school days per year and eventually dropping out all-together.

In Uganda girls not only lack the knowledge about getting their periods, but there is little access for women and girls to access sanitary products that they can afford. In addition, men and boys do not understand the requirements of their daughters and sisters which lead to lack of support and teasing in schools causing girls further embarrassment contributing to high dropout rates.

The issues associated with poor MHM practices in Uganda are many and varied. In many schools and communities girls lack appropriate WASH facilities required to manage their periods, with lack of gender friendly toilets being a major reason cited by girls who drop out of school. MHM is discussed ‘underground’, if at all and is surrounded by harmful myths and stigma. Coupled with lack of knowledge, is the inability for many girls to afford proper menstrual products. Instead they resort to crude materials to absorb their menstrual flow such as unhygienic scraps of old cloth, banana leaves or newspaper – materials which are neither effective nor comfortable. Faced with frequent, embarrassing leaks and susceptibility to recurrent infections, this situation reduces most girls’ experiences of menstruation to a monthly dose of discomfort and shame. So rather than risk the embarrassment of a leak in front of her peers, or the discomfort of sitting in class all day, many girls choose to stay at home. This is all within a national policy environment that is lagging with insufficient MHM information on a national curriculum, with the schools that do include MHM, being under equipped and often misinformed

The proceeds from this grant will go to support adolescent girls who miss 6 weeks of school every year and who miss valuable work hours. Menstruation causes adolescent girls to lose an average of 1-5 learning days per month. The goal of this project is to provide rural adolescent girls in selected communities in and out of school in primary and secondary schools with washable and re-usable sanitary towels that will last for more than 12 Months, building the capacity of girls and boys on menstrual hygiene. The target categories are women, girls with disabilities and those living with HIV/AIDS, women and girls in prisons/prisoned. The promotion and distribution of washable, re-usable sanitary pads is an entry point for engagement on wider issues related to menstrual hygiene and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS and early teenage pregnancies. Campaigns to demystify menstruation will be rolled out at grass root rural areas and school level, prisons, street girls and refugee girls and girl with disability schools and this will go ahead to target men and boys in the campaign. And during this training on washable reusable sanitary pads, we shall also cover all issues on HIV/AIDS, STI’s, early pregnancies and natural family planning. And it shall also help school going girls to stay healthy, it shall reduce unwanted pregnancies, school absenteeism among the adolescent girls and rural women in the communities of Serere district in Uganda.

Increase the level of sanitation coverage and improved menstrual hygiene practices by 100% in Serere by December 2017, The expected outcome of this activity will be a reduction in the school dropout rate for girls in the project area and better performance in the education sector by girls, the enterprise will also provide re-usable sanitary towels for the rural areas that are affordable for them hence improving the sanitary hygiene for all the girls and women in the rural area who will procure pieces of Sanitary Towels,Improved child participation in school activities as a result of staying in a free environment,The project will also address and provide health education on basic facts and address common myths and misconceptions on menstrual hygiene-including Adoption of Safer Sexual Behaviour among females and males.

We provide women and girls with a sustainable solution within a hygiene packet called Afripads to manage their periods with comfort and dignity. This pack includes materials otherwise unavailable to these girls, including reusable sanitary pads made from high-performance textiles and four absorbent layers that are ultra-absorbent, hand-washable, and eco-friendly.

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Comments 2

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Jill Langhus
May 08, 2017
May 08, 2017

Hi Akullof. Thanks for sharing your story. What is the grant that you are referring to? What is the organization that it's affiliated with? Good luck with your grant:-) Hopefully you will be able to post an update in the near future with a success story!

Busayo Obisakin
Aug 21, 2017
Aug 21, 2017

Hello Akullof

Thank you  so much for sharing your story. It could be so truamatic for girls doing their mensuration in an environment where they are not free and they don't have decent sanitary pad to use. I hope you are able to get the grant you are seeking so that you can help these girls so that they can remain in school to complete their education. Be encourage that you will get there my sister