Our first campaigns to improve menstrual hygiene in Ntungamo district focused on secondary schools in the district. We were subsequently informed that we ought to focus on primary schools as the need is greater amongst that age group.
Our menstrual hygiene ambassadors, therefore, visited one Itojo Central Primary school and heard directly from year seven girls and their teacher. The situation here was indeed as bad as we had been told.
Most girls did not have access to hygienic absorbents during their periods and amongst the things they used were, old clothes, rags, banana fibres, leaves, cotton, feathers etc. some amongst the girls, missed school during their periods whilst those who had access to disposal sanitary pads didn’t change them often.
Disposal sanitary towels are expensive to buy and as such most parents encourage their daughters to ensure that one towel lasts 7-9 hours. Inevitability this leads to infections and several of the girls in year seven that use disposal sanitary towels, reported various infections.
The girls were given a reusable menstrual hygiene kit made at our workshop in Itojo sub-county. The kit has two liners and 8 napkins and if used correctly, it lasts three years. The kit comes with a backpack that enables girls to carry their pads discreetly.
Itojo Primary School is one of many schools in the sub-county that do not provide hygienic products for managing periods. The consequences of this, are that a large number of girls drop of school for something that costs as little as £5 and lasts three years.
The lack of access to menstrual hygiene management may mean that nation-states will achieve the following Sustainable Development Goals 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 12.
11 October is International Day of the Girl Child.. One of the reason we exist is to ensure that girls are not disadvantaged socially and economically because of their gender. Whilst I am happy to celebrate the Girl Child, I really wish we didn’t need days like this.
The world’s 1.1 billion girls are part of a large and vibrant global generation poised to take on the future. Yet the ambition for gender equality in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) highlights the preponderance of disadvantage and discrimination borne by girls everywhere on a daily basis. Only through explicit focus on collecting and analyzing girl-focused, girl-relevant and sex-disaggregated data, and using these data to inform key policy and program decisions, can we adequately measure and understand the opportunities and challenges girls face, and identify and track progress towards solutions to their most pressing problems…..
We have been doing some work with adolescent girls in Itojo district SW Uganda. These girls are not in employment, education or training , the so called NEETS and form part the 14 Million young people in Uganda that are without a job due to lack of skills. The life outcomes for such girls are well documented but it doesn’t have to be that way.
We have shared with you the outcome of our Skills Development program for these girls and they have been learning about fashion design and the results are amazing
As part their training, the girls are provided with fabric to experiment and design something. At the end of the first semester the girls were able to design a full outfit. As you can see from the photograph above they are now proficient in dress making.
Our aim with this program is to ensure that girls acquire skills they can use to either create their own employment or seek employment elsewhere.
We would like to offer this opportunity to many more such girls in Itojo Sub-county. You can support our efforts by making a donation to our fundraising at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/skills4girls
Menstrual Hygiene Management and the Girl Child
Access to hygienic menstrual absorbents has implications for the Girl child such as missing 2.6 days of school each month in the short term but in the long run this absenteeism may and does lead to girls dropping out of school altogether.
Our work on Menstrual Hygiene Management in secondary schools in Ntungamo District in Uganda indicates that we have a long way to go to change outcomes for the Girl Child
53% of the girls didn’t know what menstruation was before they experienced it
61% of the girls have felt ashamed or embarrassed due to their periods
42% of the girls miss days of school during their periods because they don’t have access to sanitary products
They miss 2.6 days of school a month which impacts negatively in their performance.
Students change their sanitary products every 9 hours.
Our team looked into how girls in Ntungamo secondary schools manage their periods and how they access to menstrual hygiene absorbents, and these are their findings;
48% of the students feel bad or very bad during their MPs
73% of the students use reusable pads but on average they change them every 9 hours which is not hygienic or healthy
13% of the students use reusable sanitary pads at school and a cloth at home
9.1% of the students use a cloth
4.4% of the students use leaves, mattress stuffing, toilet paper or nothing at all
It is 2016 and the fact that this is still the situation in some of the schools means that we will need days like for sometime to come. But it does not have to be this way if we work together.
Help us make a difference by supporting our MHM work for as a little as £1.
£1 provides a girl one pod that include a napkin and a holder
£5 provides a girl a full kit
£10 provides two full kits
£20 provides 4 full kits
The pod and kits last for three years making this a cost effective way of managing periods. Please donate to our Sanitary Pads 4 Girls program today via our Virgin Money page