PROMOTION, MENSTRUAL HYGIENE MANAGEMENT AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH AMONG GIRL CHILD
SHU implements the GIRL CHILD initiative (Promoting menstrual hygiene management) in Kabale district in south western Uganda. In this area and other schools of the under served communities it is common to find the entire school completely without any knowledge about menstrual hygiene management resulting into increasing cases of diseases and school drop outs due to stigma and discrimination.
This photo shows the cheap, washable, reusable sanitary pads that are used to prevent girls from missing school in Butanda subcounty in Ndorwa west, Kabale district -Uganda.
Cheap, reusable sanitary pads are helping to keep Poor and vulnerable girls in school.
In Uganda, menstruation is not a frequently discussed topic, yet it is a big problem for teenage girls. Faced with the prospect of using rags, past papers, leaves among others to curb the flow of blood, many girls choose not to go to school during their period.
Before SHU pads Bridget used rags and leaves(ebigaragara) to manage her periods.
When Bridget, 12, got her first period, she stayed at home because she was embarrassed. “Sometimes blood would come out onto my dress,” she says. “The leaves i used even fell down when I was walking.”
In addition, girls endure attitudes that stigmatize menstruating women and girls as dirty, and many are too ashamed to leave home while they are bleeding. Missing school for an extended time every month is detrimental to girls ‘education and which means they fall behind their male peers.
Supporting girls to manage their periods effectively means they will miss less school.
These millions of absences in Uganda lead to girls getting fewer qualifications (low levels of education, limited access to jobs and spending less time building confidence and life skills.
Agatha, 16, has missed a lot of school due to her periods. “My mother never talked to me about it,” she says. “My friend Bridget told me that when I start my periods I should use a rag or leaves. She didn’t explain it she just told me to do it. Every month I would miss 2 or 4 days. I was fearful of going to school when I had it.”
Staying at school can improve girls’ confidence and life skills.
Serving Hearts – Uganda is providing a simple and effective solution to the problem. We produce washable (reusable), cloth sanitary pads that last for up to a year. As a result, girls are feeling confident enough to go back to school during their periods.
“Girls who use SHU pads say they are more comfortable now, “says Teacher Justine Barinjunakyi (Head teacher Kagoma primary school). “They can run and play which they were afraid to do before when they had their periods.”
SHU pads help girls to feel confident at school during their periods.
Both Bridget and Agatha now use SHU Pads and are back in school full-time. “All the girls come to school every day and our grades are better,” says Bridget. “No one is upset about getting their period anymore.”
Open discussions help to break down the stigmas surrounding menstrual hygiene and reproductive health.
Jenifer, 15, is one of the club leaders of the project at her school. “I wanted to be a health prefect so I could help my friends,” she says. “I teach them about keeping clean. I tell them to clean their private parts with clean water and clean dry cloth when changing pads, wash their SHU Pads very well and dry them very well.”
Promerah giving a talk about menstrual hygiene management and reproductive health at her school. Because I am a Girl am committed to addressing the stigmas surrounding menstruation and supporting girls to manage their periods so they feel confident and stay in school.
Attitudes towards menstruation, and inadequate hygiene facilities, are having a detrimental impact on girls’ ability to make important decisions about their sexual health and well-being.
A menstrual hygiene management and reproductive health club meeting taking place at a school in Uganda.
Women and girls worldwide, menstruation is a monthly reality, yet in many districts in Uganda, they still face serious challenges when it comes to managing their periods.
How are girls affected?
BREAKING DOWN TABOOS
Serving Hearts-Uganda is committed to addressing the social beliefs and stigmas and discrimination surrounding menstruation and reproductive health together with local government and schools we are training peer educators (Ambassadors), teachers and parents. We also distribute menstrual hygiene materials in schools and teach girls how to manage their periods so they feel confident and stay in school.
SHU provides training for Girls and young women to make local reusable sanitary pads. We then purchase the pads and give them to poor and vulnerable girls. Bridget is back in school full-time since using SHU pads and says, “All the girls come to school every day and our grades are better.”
By breaking down stigmas and discrimination and supporting girls’ menstrual hygiene management and reproductive health, we are helping them stay in school and decide their futures free from discrimination.
Our new strategy will help us reach more poor and vulnerable girls with high quality services.
We recognize the value and importance of partnerships in reaching our ambitious targets. The contributions of Donors, finders, sponsors, the government, local partners and colleagues within Serving Hearts-Uganda are essential as we address the issues facing Ugandan schools and communities and we will seek to forge new relationships and strengthen existing ones to make that a reality over the coming years.