This is an important issue affecting girls’ achievement in education. I recently conducted a gender audit of water, sanitation and hygiene programmess in partners involved in the Uganda Water Alliance (UWA). I found encouraging progress in relation to menstruation, which used to be taboo in schools, and is currently being demystified.
All implementing Community Empowerment Programme partners in five districts had been trained on the concept of menstrual hygiene and the making of low cost reusable menstrual pads.
Other UWA partners reported that menstrual hygiene management was practiced in collaboration with IRC. SNV promotes awareness and sensitivity of local partners at district local government level by making presentations. Nevertheless, menstruation is still treated with a level of shyness in communities, where people do not talk about it or about using sanitary pads.
However, in many Ugandan primary schools, male and female teachers, boys and girls are trained to make the re-useable menstrual pads from toweling during weekly handwork sessions for this activity, which helps to break the stigma.
The Rwanda Association of University Women has been working with Sustainable Health Enterprises and other agencies in Rwanda to break the silence on this topic.
Shirley Randell, Kigali Rwanda
Reaction to the story, “Govt urged to increase access to sanitary towels in schools”, (The New Times, April 7)
Female hygiene shouldn’t be taboo in schools