In developing countries, the issues regarding menstruation and lack of access to sanitary products are often kept silent, and what should be a right of passage into womanhood is often a gateway to dropping out of school.
Luhwahwa Youth Development Foundation is a voluntary, non-profit, community based, non-governmental organization (NGO) that provides support to marginalized communities across the Kasese district of western Uganda. One arm of our program is working on a holistic Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM).
Menstruation is a silent issue; half of adolescent girls consider it a disease and don’t know how to deal with it. Most girls/ women are unable to afford sanitary napkins. In a culture that treats menstruation as taboo, many issues relating to puberty, teen pregnancy, and early marriage limit a woman’s access to education. The lack of feminine products and information lead to girls dropping out of school early, as they have no opportunities to maintain their hygiene during menstrual periods, miss lessons and fall behind.
Most often, girls face the embarrassment of blood leaking through their clothes (spotting). This lack of protection leads most girls to miss up to five days of school monthly. That is a lot of days over the course of a school year – 6 weeks!
To address this, we are providing education, distributing reusable sanitary pads, building gender-separate toilets, and providing counseling. To create more public awareness, we also celebrate the 28th of May as the Menstrual Hygiene Day and International Day of Action for Women’s Health.