By Violet Nabatanzi & Jane Wasagali
A consortium of civil society organizations are calling upon government to put in place a school health policy that addresses menstrual hygiene management in schools.
According to the recent research by World Bank and civil society organizations, at least 60 percent of the school girls in Uganda miss school every month due to challenges ingrained in their menstrual cycle.
“The current policy on gender in the education sector is not strong enough to address the needs of girls when they are in school,” the advisor water, sanitation and hygiene SNV, a Netherlands based organization, Chemisto Satya, disclosed on Tuesday
“What we are looking for is a policy that it is clearly stating how government can help girls remain in school or being absent because of poor menstrual management,” she noted.
Build Africa representative, Sarah Amulo (R) and James Kiyimba, WaterAid Coordinator addressing the press on the SNV Conference which is going to take place on August 14-15, 2014. Photo/ Peter Busomoke
The activists noted that most girls often lack access to proper facilities such as sanitary pads, water and soap to support them move through the menstrual cycle with minimal disruption to their studies.
The study carried out by SNV in 2012 in seven districts, showed that about half of the girl pupils in the study report missed 3 days of school days per month. This translates into a loss of 8 to 24 school days per year.
The study was carried out in Arua, Adjuman, Bundibugyo , Kasese, Kyenjojo, Lira and Soroti.
The report also showed that; over 50 percent of the senior women teachers confirmed that there is no provision for menstrual pads to school girls.
Speaking ahead of the East Africa menstrual Hygiene conference due to take place on the 14 and 15 of this month at Hotel Africana, the Girls’ Education movement Uganda chairperson, Janat Namatovu, called upon government to provide free sanitary pads to girls in school just like our neighboring country Kenya has done.
The head of project development Build Africa, Sarah Amulo, said “The Universal primary Education (UPE) policy provides for allowable expenses, we are now asking the government, can emergency sanitary pads become allowable expenses.”
The theme for the conference is “Break the silence on menstrual hygiene management, keep the girl in school,”