In the mid-2000s, an advert used to run across various TV stations in Uganda. It was a sanitary pads advert. The main selling point was the pads absorbent capacity and no lick capability. But, for some reason, when the pad was being tested, the fluid used to show the pads efficiency was blue! But ideally, blood is red. That’s how much shame is associated with the topic of menstruation. It’s sad that even in the 21st century, a period is considered shameful and vile. – Ms Michelle Omamteker Director Malengo Foundation.
On the 28th of May 2021, Msichana Uganda, a female youth-led non-government organisation in Uganda whose mission is to facilitate the sustainable empowerment of young women and girls through capacity development, advocacy, and civic education, decided to tackle one of the challenges the world has turned a blind eye to. Female sanitation. IUEA and other key partners joined in on the official launch of the Pad Every Girl Initiative at the Kampala Sheraton hotel. The event brought together various celebrated personalities in the media, entertainment, beauty and political arenas. It was very encouraging that a lot of men graced the occasion too.
MENSTRUAL REPORT IN UGANDA
“About half of the girl pupils in the study report miss 1-3 days of primary school per month. This translates into a loss of 8 to 24 school days per year. This means per term; a girl pupil may miss up to 8 days of study. On average, there are 220 learning days in a year and missing 24 days a year translates into 11% of the time a girl pupil will miss learning due to menstrual periods; Over 60% of the girl pupils absent themselves from school during their menstruation. 70% of the headteachers and 80% of the senior headteachers stated that they are not satisfied with menstrual facilities at their schools. Over 50% of the senior women teachers confirmed there is no provision for menstrual pads for school girls; “-Netherland development organisation centre report on menstrual management in Uganda.
GRAPHICAL REPRESENTATION OF HOW MENSTRUATION AFFECTS GIRLS IN UGANDA
PAD EVERY GIRL INITIATIVE
Having realised and appreciated the dire need for menstrual hygiene management education and interventions, Msichana Uganda embarked on taking this service to the adolescent girls in school to attain the maximum possible school attendance and classroom concentration.
The organisation will distribute hygienic, eco-friendly, durable and reusable sanitary pads to girls in upper primary and lower secondary school to enable them to go through their menstrual periods with utmost dignity.
GOALS OF THE PROJECT
To enable school girls, boys and teachers to speak more freely and comfortably about menstruation and demystify all myths surrounding the subject.
- To reduce the chances of girls dropping out of school due to the stigma, lack of confidence, and low self-esteem caused by poor menstrual hygiene and the absence of proper sanitary materials.
- To equip young women who have dropped out of school with tailoring skills and the capacity to design and produce sanitary pads, which skills they can use to start their small businesses.
- To provide employment opportunities to teenage mothers and young women living with disabilities through training them and assigning them the responsibility to produce sanitary pads at a fee.
- To promote environmental sustainability by ensuring that all components of the pads are reusable and eco-friendly.
As an institution that believes in the values of women empowerment and moulding the next generation of female leaders, IUEA will be joining in on the mass reusable sanitary pads production. Away from the production of quality sanitary towels, IUEA is giving away 18 million shillings worth of scholarships to the project.