Of everything I have seen, there is probably no difference greater between the developed world and the developing world than the problems that arise for a girl as she transitions into womanhood.
Millions of girls in Sub-Saharan Africa are disempowered by the simple biological process of menstruation. Affordable and hygienic sanitary protection is not available to girls in many areas. They resort to the use of unhygienic rags and cloths which puts them at the risk of infections.
A girl absent from school due to menstruation for four days of every 28 day cycle loses 13 learning days, the equivalent to two weeks of learning, every school term. Academic performance is closely correlated with school attendance, and absenteeism, and dropout rates are high for rural Ugandan girls. A survey of menstruating girls in Uganda found that “the biggest numbers of school dropouts are girls because of inconveniences during their menstrual periods.”
Proposing a Solution
Reusable sanitary pads. Reusable sanitary pads are a sustainable and easily renewable resource, allowing the girls to wash and reuse them rather than having to buy disposable pads every month. In addition, they are comparatively inexpensive and environmentally friendly. The social benefit of the implementation of this concept can greatly mitigate the disadvantages and challenges many disempowered girls endure during their process of maturing.
The Pads for Schoolgirls Project
Humanity Healing International is implementing a 5-phase project to address this problem:
- Create an immediate supply of reusable sanitary pad kits for the young girls in the program.
- Create a Vocational Training Program focused on seamstress and sewing skills. Part of the training in this curriculum will be the manufacture of the reusable pad kits to be “paid forward” to other girls in the region.
- Connect with Non-Governmental Organizations, NGOs, teaching women and girl’s reproductive health and safety. Be a focal point for the development and expansion of Health Awareness programs to bring concepts such as feminine hygiene, programmed parenthood, and general wellbeing.
- Grow/expand the Vocational Training Program into a sustainable part-time industry providing a viable income-generating activity for impoverished women to manufacture pad kits.
- Create and promote an activist campaign to create awareness in the global community and to petition the Ugandan government to allocate funding to prevent girls from missing school due to lack of sanitary pads. To cite an example, the government of Kenya has recently established a gender-responsive funding initiative with this goal by providing free pads to schoolgirls.
For more details, visit the Project page here on the website:
How You Can Help
- Spread the News! Please Facebook, Tweet, +1…share across all your social networks. Download the Project Synopsis and share what you learn with others. We need to ripple this out and we need you!
- If you belong to Causes on Facebook, please choose HHI as your charity to fundraise for this holiday season. Create a Holiday Wish (or Birthday Wish) for http://www.causes.com/causes/281161-humanity-healing-international
- If you have sewing skills, you can help make the pads we will be sending to Africa. For more information, see: Pad Kit Information
- Sign the Petition: Pads for Schoolgirls Petition. Get your friends to sign. We need at least 2500 signatures to start being heard. Be the Voice of the Voiceless.
- Donations are always good. We have a lot that needs doing!