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In Uganda, the school participation of girls is known to be low; 80% do not finish primary school! The structural lack of access to sanitary pads as a result of poverty (period poverty) plays a significant role in this.
Period poverty is a problem that affects girls globally, yet as the figure below shows, especially girls from low and middle-income countries are affected. In Uganda, even 62% of girls report that they regularly miss school because of menstrual hygiene issues! The figure is based on research that was done in an urban area (Entebbe). In rural areas the figure is much higher.
As for the situation in Uganda, in order to still get sanitary pads, the distraught and vulnerable girls often offer themselves for sex in exchange for sanitary pads. Sex-hungry men gratefully take advantage of this, with the sad result that not only do many girls become unwanted pregnant, but many also often become infected with HIV, with of course all the sad consequences that entails. In addition, the girls are often not allowed to go to school when they are pregnant. Many young girls are expelled from school for that reason, and do not return anymore. Fact is that 1 in 4 girls (25%) between the ages of 15 and 19 is already a mother or pregnant with her first child. In sub-Saharan countries, to which Uganda belongs, young women are twice as likely to have HIV than young men.
Challenges that girls in Uganda experience towards menstruation include in the first place the lack of access to effective absorbents (such as sanitary pads, tampons and other) as a result of poverty. Also, factors such as inadequate facilities to change and dispose of absorbants, lack of access to soap and water, and lack of privacy are reported to play a role. In addition, inadequate social support and presence of taboos cause the girls problems. Most girls lack knowledge about puberty, menstruation and sexuality, simply because their parents or caretakers are also not informed; this lack of knowledge leads to consequences that include shame, fear, anxiety and distraction. All these factors can affect girls’ ability to thrive and succeed at school.
Since 2021, we are providing (school-going) teenage girls in our working area with re-usable sanitary pads and a bar of soap, whereby we make sure that both the girls and the teachers also receive the for them necessary information. In addition, through the rainwater collection systems and toilet buildings that we construct at schools, we help solving the challenges of lacking water and privacy.
As much as we are aware of the seriousness of the existing challenges, we will of course continue offering solutions that will help girls towards finishing their education and building themselves a worthy future.
Also you can help!
From every €5,- we receive we can provide one girl a set of re-usable sanitary pads and a bar of soap.
Every donation, regardless of the size of the amount, is always greatly appreciated by us!
HWMCO-Nederland & NiCA Foundation
‘We Fight Poverty by Bringing Development’
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