Are you aware that lack of sanitary pads and menstrual stereotypes are among the leading causes of girl child school absenteeism and drop out? Girls in most rural communities in Uganda miss school for at least 4 days a month because they are menstruating and their parents or guardians cannot afford to buy them pads or are negligent. It is so unfortunate that at the age 15-17 some girls in various rural communities across the globe have never seen a sanitary pad.
My name is Rose Namaalwa, I am a teacher at The Stoneridge School and also an advocate for girls and women in my community. Being an advocate for gender equality, I realized girls missing school due to menstruation was not okay hence having a deep conversation with “GAU”- a youth led organization that deals in breaking menstruation stigma – to come and teach about menstrual hygiene reusable pads since most of the girls in the community have no access to pads, and help in sensitization of menstrual hygiene management to the school community, neighboring schools and the females in the community.
After informing and engaging with all the stakeholders at the school and in the community about my conversation with Girls Alive Uganda, everyone was convinced and they were looking forward to host Girls Alive Uganda to tackle the major theme of menstruation which was seen as a challenge in the Nalongo community where the school is located. Also a very great way to celebrate the International Women’s Day.
On the 8th March 2021, the long awaited team landed at the place. Girls Alive Uganda created a lot of awareness about menstruation in the host community, taught most of us how to make Reusable pads and its maintenance. They also carried refreshments to the participants and also donated clothings to everyone who was present on that day.
In the long run, girls and women in Nalongo community registered a lot of progress from Gau and always reminds me to call them (GAU) to go back and have refresher training. Through this awareness, I was in position to come up with “Girls Leading Our World club ” in Nalongo community where a lot of other hands on skills have been passed on to women.
“From the time Ribbinnah received training from the other organization that you invited at school, she is very smart and clean, very confident and she has started focusing” Mzee kagumira a grandfather to Robbinnah….. Commented. Gau has continued to deliver almost the same sessions in different communities but I really ask myself about the sustainability of these beautiful things that are done in these communities if we don’t go back to check on them…
In my opinion, Girls Alive Uganda has done a very tremendous work in fighting menstruation Stigma but also sustainability should be worked upon. For Example, making random visits to communities where you have passed on the knowledge about menstruation and see whether the project is still in existence.
By; Guest Writer
Ms. Rose Namaalwa(BASS)
The StoneRidge in Kira municipality in Wakiso district.