Educate A Child International (EACI) plans to start producing reusable sanitary pads to supply to 2000 girls in upper primary in schools in Kasese District. Our area has undergone decades of political and tribal conflicts resulting in poverty. The project will see Edu-Pads supplied to girls from poor families freely and this will save them from using rags, mud, leaves and papers which exposes them to vaginal infections and dropping from school when they have menses.
Save 2000 Girls from Vaginal Infections and School Drop Outs in Kasese District, Uganda
Kasese District is one of the Districts in Western Uganda, located in Rwenzori Region. The District has seen recurring political and tribal conflicts for decades. As a result, the area has been adversely affected in terms of development with high school drop out rates, high HIV prevalence rate of about 16%, poor social infrastructure, poverty, etc. The adolescents are among the most vulnerable to HIV and AIDS, they are the poorest and they are the easily misguided due to lack of experience in life skills. Therefore they take up the highest burden of all the problems of every situation in life of a Ugandan.
a. 31% of the population live under poverty line. About 85% of the people in Uganda are peasants who depend on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods. A survey made by most young girls who get premarital sex and pregnancies indicate that they do so because they get simple gifts in exchange for unprotected sex as a way of winning financial support from the men as a means of survival.
b. Life expectancy is at 52 years, this early death in relationship with fertility rates leads to many children being left as orphans at an early age.
c. Gender Based Violence in Uganda is at 68% for females and 20% for males. This type of violence becomes hard to control when it is at domestic level. The effects can be observed when the children fail to get parental guidance and care, which results into street children and uneducated youth at the end.
d. Fertility rates are high in Uganda at 6.7 per women. Only 18% of the married women apply modern contraceptive methods. This is because of lack of nearby facilities but also due to lack of education about them. 435 out of 100,000 women die while producing. This is because of low antenatal health care services. Records at most hospitals indicate that 28% of the women who attend to antenatal clinics in Uganda are below 18 years old. Such young girls, despite the fact that they are supposed to care for their babies, they are not allowed under the international labor laws to have gainful employment.
e. According to the UNHS 2005/06 more than 2.1 million children in Uganda are vulnerable which represents up to 13.1% of the young people in Uganda. According to the records of Uganda Beauroux of Statistics (UBOS) up to 3 million children in Uganda are under the category of Orphan and Vulnerable Children (OVC) and 109,000 children of below 15 years Living with HIV are 2.1million vulnerable children and 2.3million orphans (National Development Plan 2010/11 -2014/15).
f. Primary school retention is 53% for boys and 42% for girls while secondary education only 30% of the girls who go to primary schools reach secondary school education at the age of 18 years old (quoted from UDHS 2009). The high drop out of girls at schools leads to early marriages and unwanted pregnancies at an early age.
g. HIV prevalence used to be very high; it has been reduced from 30% in eighties to 6-7% in 2008.
Majority of women and girls in Kasese District use rags, usually torn from old clothes, T-shirts, leaves, mud, animal skin, toilet paper, bark cloth instead of sanitary pads. Rags are washed and reused several times. There is no private place to change and clean the rags and often no safe water and soap to wash them properly. A culture of shame and embarrassment forces them to seek for well hidden places even in their homes to dry the rags. These places are often damp, dark and unhealthy. This practice is responsible for a significant proportion of illness and infection associated with female reproductive health. Rags that are unclean cause urinary and vaginal infection. Very often serious infections are left untreated.
The muteness about the issue of menstruation coupled with the disadvantaged socioeconomic position of girls and women in Africa in general and Uganda in particular perpetuates further inaccessibility to the much-needed sanitary pad. The advent of commercial sanitary towels has not generally saved the situation considering that the associated sky rocketing prices of the towels is not affordable. Making matters once is when girls offer in sex in exchange for sanitary pads with older men.
Inaccessibility of menstrual products results in embarrassment, anxiety and shame when girls and women stain their clothes, which is stigmatizing. Once girls start missing school they are far more likely to be exposed to other risks such as early pregnancy and marriage, HIV and AIDS. Increasing girl’s completion of education cycles is a critical component of efforts to build their wider empowerment and in particular for ensuring that they are more able to be involved in decision making over all aspects of their lives including over their reproductive and sexual health rights.
Realizing that the problems of MHM are countering the efforts of government and other stakeholders to promote universal education for girls, EACI is proposing to intervene by initiating a reusable sanitary pad making project. The proposed project aims to increase accessibility to sanitary towels for girls in schools in Kasese Municipality.
The provision of free sanitary towels to girls in this poverty stricken area marred with conflicts will enhance the enrolment and retention of girls in school thus having a long-term impact on an individual girl and her community development.
1. To improve school attendance among girls between the ages of 8 and 25 years in primary and secondary schools;
2. To increase access to 2000 vulnerable adolescent girls with sanitary towels and comprehensive menstrual hygiene management knowledge and risk awareness of HIV&AIDS among in-school and out of school girls between the ages 8 to 25 years;
3. To increase the self-esteem of needy girls between ages 8 to 25 years;
4. To improve economic status for 500 out of school young women between 18-34 years;
- Procurement of Materials
- Quality checks by Health Officers
- Distribution of Edu-Pads
- Capacity Building on Menstrual Hygiene
- Monitoring and Evaluation
The product shall be called Edu-Pads as a social business for producing reusable sanitary pads using locally available materials from local industries. Since 2014, business and health seminars have been conducted within groups of women to give them knowledge on menstrual health and how to run a successful, sustainable business. The local community and local authority Kasese Municipal Council has been active in the decision to start producing these pads locally to save the girls. Our trained staff is ready to start working on this project.
Marketing of Edu-Pads:
Since we work with communities, marketing of these pads will be an easy thing. We shall market them through student clubs, community development officers, during sensitization meetings and flyers about the same shall be printed utilizing our E-Learning centre to produce them.
- The community will be able to get low cost pads.
- A program will be designed to train girls out of school on how to make these reusable pads by using simple means to enhance their livelihoods.
- By aiding girls to keep in school, girls will be able to avoid AIDS.
- Girls after finishing school will cater for their families from job earnings.
Sustainability and Results:
We intend to introduce an affordable fee at the end of the project on the pads produced to ensure the project keeps running. We shall also lobby Kasese Municipal Council to give a hand in the continuity of the project because we have been actively working with them in most of our projects through the community based services department. Important also is that Teachers and other advocators who will been trained will continue to work with school health clubs to continue sensitizing the students and community members on HIV and AIDS and rights.
Educate A Child International (EACI) will meet other costs related to wages,rent,costs of printing leaflets and other contributions. We therefore seek your support. Every contribution is a great milestone towards having an impact on the suffering girls and women in Kasese District.
Call On Donors:
Our intention is to start producing reusable pads locally in Kasese so that we save the many girls and women in Kasese District. We therefore request you to support this project.