On 28 May 2016, we launched a Menstrual Hygiene Management program (MHM) in Ntungamo district SW Uganda with a view to ensuring that women and girls manage their monthly period in a hygienic way. This involves ensuring that girls and women have access to information about menstruation as well as access to clean and safe menstrual absorbents.
As part of the access to information aspect of the program, our Program Manager and MHM Ambassadors visited 12 secondary schools within Ntungamo district SW Uganda over a course of 4 weeks. The team spoke with 1175 girls in all as well as some of their female teachers. Their findings are summarised below
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 interviewed miss 2.6 days of school during their periods because they don’t have access to sanitary products 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.
These findings are challenging to say the least. We cannot allow this situation to persist as it has direct implications for poverty.
We want to offer these girls a hygienic and sustainable way to manage their periods. We also want to ensure that girls do not miss school days because of a lack of access to menstrual absorbents. We however cannot do this without your help and you can make a difference for as a little as £1.
£1 provides a girl one pod that includes 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
Menstruation is a normal biological process and a key sign of reproductive health, yet in many cultures it is treated as something negative, shameful or dirty. The continued silence around menstruation combined with limited access to information at home and in schools results in millions of women and girls having very little knowledge about what is happening to their bodies when they menstruate and how to deal with it (source: developmentbookshelf.com)
This statement is true of girls in Ruhanga. We are working to change this and our journey starts here.
This is our new sewing room that will serve as a training room as well as centre of operations.
The local machinist tweaks the sewing machines before the girls are let loose on them. This type of a machine is known as a locker and here the machinist sets it up to ensure that it works and that it is threaded correctly.
With the sewing room set up, an advert went out to invite girls not in education or employment to attend an assessment day.
These are three of teenage girls that were selected to become ambassadors of our menstrual hygiene program. They will be put through an intensive training program including a a two week residential course in Kampala.
With no time to waste, work got under way and here the girls are practising their sanitary pads making skills
Agnes cutting out pattens
Team work- Letricia and Agnes threading the finishing machine
Letricia was a late addition to the team. She has caught up. This is the first liner she made independently.
As well learning how to make sanitary pads, the girls are learning about managing money. These skills will be essential to the sustainability of the project. More about this in future posts
This journey has been made possible by Jenn who run the London Marathon in aid of Menstrual Hygiene Management. The money she raised has gone towards the setting up of the sewing room. Jenn completed the London Marathon in 5 Hours 6 minutes. You can still contribute to Jenn’s campaign at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JenniferDutton1
28 May is Menstrual Hygiene Day and this is something we started to look at in Ruhanga after I got a letter from one of our girls Elina Agaba. Elina is amongst the 15 girls from Team College Ruhanga that are taking part in bike repair initiative. Read more