Step30 International Ministries, a Taiwan-based organisation in collaboration with local non-governmental organisations have launched a campaign, dubbed Love Binti to meet the need for sanitary towels for rural girls.
By Evaline Namuwaya
HEALTH | EDUCATION
Annet Nakabugo is housewife from Kanyanya, three of daughters are in their adolescent stage. However, she cannot afford sanitary pads for all of them.
"I can only afford toilet paper or old pieces of clot, but my daughters do not like them because it leaves their uniforms stained. So, they stay at home for the five days until their cycle ends," she lamented.
Nakabugo is not the only parent who cannot afford pads for her children. According to a report released in 2013 by Build Africa, statistics indicated that 30% of the girls abandoned school for lack of sanitary pads. This has had impact on girl-child retention in schools.
On average, the report revealed that 29.7% of the adolescent girls said they miss at least four days per cycle out of the 80 school days spent at school.
Another 24.3% of the girls admitted to being stigmatised whenever they soiled their uniforms and as a result, they opted to stay at home until the end of their period.
But according to Annette Igunyo, a senior woman teacher in Kapang, Bukedea district, these girls eventually give up on school.
Since the publication the statistics, interventions have come, including a pledge by President Yoweri Museveni to have girls provided with pads.
However, the pledge did not materialise as the minister of education, Janet Museveni, said the Government did not have the money to fulfil the pledge.
It upon this background that Step30 International Ministries, a Taiwan-based organisation in collaboration with local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have launched a campaign, dubbed Love Binti to meet the need for sanitary towels for rural girls.
The campaign is also targeting 100 local NGO partnership in order to meet the target before the end of this year.
Elle Yang, the project executive director for the Love Binti Project, said they are looking at a comprehensive approach to this challenge. They will carry out training of women, give girls sexual and hygiene knowledge and train seed teachers.
"Since the first field investigations in August 2015, the project has sent out 16 groups to pursue health education. After their training, the groups are dispatched to teach girls how to sew pads and maintain hygiene," she narrated.
Samuel Mushabe, the executive director for Making a difference in Uganda Face to Face (MADUFAFA), is one of the partners that will be making pads for this project. He said this is a milestone for the need for pads in Uganda.
"Initially Step30 wanted to bring already-made pads from Taiwan, but after conducting a study, they got to know that there were local organisations that were engaged in the field. So they decided to bring raw materials and gave it to local NGOs to do the sewing, then buy them from us at a subsidised price," he said.
Joseph Watuleke, a lecturer at Makerere University in the department of community and adult education, said the project will see some entrepreneurship students participate and gain skills.
In May last year, the state minister for higher education, John Chrysostom Muyingo, assured the country that the Government is still committed to keeping its promise.
He said the Government has continued to sensitise parents and other stakeholders about the need to provide sanitary pads to girls.
Muyingo said as an intervention, the Government had provided training to 400 schools on promotion of menstrual hygiene management in eight districts of northern Uganda.
The Government also provided the Menstrual Hygiene Management manuals to 900 schools to guide teacher training on menstrual hygiene management.