In Uganda, many girls don’t attend school on days they menstruate due to a lack of affordable protection materials. Girls are afraid of embarrassment or ridicule if they soil themselves at school, but sanitary products are far too expensive for their families to afford – so they miss a week of school each month – and fall behind in their studies. The Forum for African Women has reported that menstruation is the top factor affecting school drop-out among girls. Some girls at the Kabalagala Community School have used unhealthy materials for sanitary supplies such as banana fibers and old newspapers–resulting in a high incidence of opportunistic infections. But just distributing sanitary napkins is not enough – it is important for young women and their female caregivers to have accurate information about menstruation, reproductive health, and other related topics.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund (VGIF), i.HUG is providing girls and their mothers with information on a variety of women’s health topics including reproductive health, sexual health (STD transmission, HIV/AIDS, etc.), and domestic violence through Women’s Health Days. At the first of these health days, held in August, the girls learned about the onset of menstruation (in the company of their female caregiver), proper hygiene and sanitary skills, and all the participants were taught how to make reuseable and washable sanitary napkins that will enable them to stay healthy and allow the girls to stay in school all month long. The school nurse and the female staff of i.HUG were also trained, enabling them to conduct future trainings for other not-for-profit schools and for future Women’s Health Days. The next two Health days coming will be open to women from the entire Kabalagala community and will feature doctors and health educators from a variety of organizations operating in local area.
i.HUG Foundation is grateful to VGIF for its continued support for our work!