GBN's project was approved as a grant under JICA’s FY2020 2nd Term Partnership Program.*
* The project is planned to start in FY 2021.
＜Girls drop out of schools due to menstruation.＞
Many developing countries like Uganda have a major problem in that the dropout rate of school children is still high due to various reasons, for example, students living in poverty cannot afford school fees and materials in addition to long distances from home to school. Surprisingly, monthly menstruation is the major reason for school girls’ dropouts. GBN had previously implemented the project called "Reusable Sanitary Pads for School Girls" in 2015 and realized that many adolescent girls going to school cannot afford to buy sanitary pads. Many girls as well have ended up seeking other alternatives such as using old clothing, which cannot sustain them for the whole day. Also, these alternatives are often not clean, which can cause danger of infection.
Others with no options end up missing school during their menstruation periods, which affects their performance. In addition, most school girls have experienced their menstrual blood leaking during school hours and fellow pupils, especially boys, laugh and bully them. This makes them feel uncomfortable and some girls end up missing school while others drop out of school due to menstrual related hygiene management.
Therefore, GBN implemented the pilot project to provide reusable sanitary pads for school girls and conducted a survey to assess the impact of this pilot project.
◆STUDY RESULTS REPORT 2015
As a result, we have found that the project had a positive impact regarding an improvement in school girls’ attendance and performance. In addition, some girls who dropped out of school returned after being provided with reusable pads. Girls' absenteeism due to menstrual related hygiene management reasons affects their performance at school. On average, a girl misses school 4-5 days in a month and 12-15 days during a term. Based on the assessment results conducted in 2015, a lack of proper knowledge of menstruation, sanitary hygiene and sex education, and low gender awareness were identified as the major problems.
”Improvement of School Environment to Combat Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) Challenges to Stop Adolescent Girls School Dropouts in Uganda” (2017-2019)
GBN conducted the three year project from 2017 to 2019 with the support of Lush Japan in collaboration with the SORAK Development Agency*, a local NGO in Mubende. SORAK provided instruction for making reusable sanitary pads, hygiene / sex education and gender awareness activities to prevent female students from dropping out due to menstruation. GBN conducted an impact survey to measure the impact of these activities.
◆You can find past reports from the link below.
＜We will develop our activities as a JICA project.＞
Based on our past project implementation mentioned above, GBN realized that we need to contribute to improving the school enrollment rate of more girls by providing effective support to provide sanitary pad making training, expand proper knowledge about menstruation hygiene management, disseminate sex education, and raise gender awareness.
Another challenge is the lack of teachers' abilities to deal with girl's menstrual problems as well as the poor facilities in many schools such as a lack of women's washrooms and a lack of places to wash and change their stained or soiled clothes. Also, in general, many women who cannot afford disposable sanitary pads are often unaware of the economical benefit of reusable sanitary pads. When girls in poor families drop out of school, they are more likely to fall into child labor / sex industry, young marriage / pregnancy, etc. In order to prevent girls from being in such a socially and economically vulnerable position, we believe that it is necessary to create an environment where girls can safely attend school even during menstruation and complete their basic education.
◆JICA project page (Japanese)
We greatly appreciate if you keep following our progress reports which will be uploaded in this blog!