‘Her Choice’ program to improve on the conditions of girls in schools. The program focuses on: Girl Child Empowerment, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, and Menstrual Health Management.
Why Her Choice
In October, 2017; Thomson Reuters Foundation based in London featured a case study of Auma, a Ugandan schoolgirl aged 12 who asked her mother for sanitary pads on her first period. Her mother advised the younger girl to find herself a husband to pay for sanitary pads. Unfortunately, the situation continues to be a silent evil in Uganda today. Statistics from the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS) reveal that 46% of girls marry before they reach 18 years. Causes of rampant child marriages include: poverty, limited access to education for girls, traditional and social norms which dictate that girls should marry young so as to be ‘good mothers’ and ignorance on risks associated with marrying girls at an early age.
Poor Menstrual Health Management is regarded as one of the major reasons for irregular school attendance and later dropout among girls. In fact, it is not by coincidence that the dropout rates among girls are higher in upper primary and high school. In its 2005 report on hygiene and sanitation in schools, the World Bank noted that ‘if a girl misses 4 days of school every 4 weeks due to her period, she will miss 10-20% of her school days’; yet many girls miss at least 5 days every month during their menstruation period.
Disposable Sanitary pads, the common savior in such a situation cost more than 2,500 UGX despite the waiver of VAT on imported pads. However, in Uganda this is far much higher than what an average family can afford. Many girls, lacking access and/or unable to afford these materials, have no option but to either leave school or resort to unhygienic and uncomfortable alternatives.
Through ‘Her Choice’ program, we are breaking down this barrier to girls’ education and empowerment with our training on how to make reusable sanitary pads that provides a good alternative since these can be washed and re-used.