Alienum phaedrum torquatos nec eu, vis detraxit periculis ex, nihil expetendis in mei. Mei an pericula euripidis, hinc partem.


Irise / East Africa Work  / Strengthening Menstrual Health Education and Management in Soroti district, Uganda

Strengthening Menstrual Health Education and Management in Soroti district, Uganda

Today, period poverty is a battleground of women and girl’s health. From lack of access to safe, hygienic sanitary products and environment to the growing stigma around the management of menstruation. Over the last 5 years, we’ve developed holistic, evidence-based solutions to the challenges young people experience during their period in East Africa.

Since 2018, Irise Institute-East Africa (IIEA) with support from Irise International and Sustain for Life has been implementing the Girls in Control project that focuses on Menstrual Education and Management in Eastern Uganda specifically in Soroti district. IIEA and Irise International work together to transform the lives of people in the UK and East Africa through ending period poverty and shame.  
Most girls in Soroti district dropout of school because of a lack of sanitary towels or pads. In addition, there is the absenteeism of girls from school due to lack of scholastic materials to use at school consequently affecting their performance in class. Similarly, some are affected by the lack of essential items such as knickers, soap, and other hygienic materials. Poor management of menstruation affects many girls globally, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Managing periods at home is a significant challenge for women and adolescent girls who lack these basic facilities at home.
Soroti School Kit for Girls Project
Within this project, we trained selected schools about menstrual education and management. The focus is on puberty, anatomy (the male and female reproductive systems), menstrual cycle, pain and emotions, missed or irregular periods, and use of sanitary products and hygiene. This is done by the support of IIEA staff who facilitate in groups through sharing of experiences, question and answer approaches that are stipulated in the Irise Educator Manual for East Africa. We provide reusable sanitary pads to the girls. 
“I have been using an old blanket during my monthly menstruation period. I am so grateful you have given me this reusable sanitary pad because it will enable me to study comfortably well at school.” A pupil.
Refresher & recap sessions were also conducted by IIEA to find out the impact of the training on the school community. We identified that most girls do not report to school due to a lack of school items. We distributed scholastic materials such as books, pens, pencils, and mathematical sets to the girls.  In one school we visited, the headteacher noted that “I find this activity timely because some girls were to sit for their mock exams without mathematical sets.”

With the support of the school headteachers, senior men and women, the Soroti Education Municipal Leadership and Community Development Officers, monitoring and follow-ups are usually made in the schools to understand the progress.
Changing the Narrative 
In December 2020 when we revisited the targeted schools, most pupils were positive and happy to menstruate because they were educated about hygiene, managing their menstruation, and provided with sanitary pads. “I am happy to know that menstruation is normal,” a pupil stated. Some girls pass on the information to their communities and surroundings because they are confident in themselves. The training has boosted their self-esteem, motivated them to focus and stay in school. In the targeted schools, most male teachers and boys are supportive of the agenda to end menstrual stigma and period inequality. Most boys learned about their reproductive body parts and how to create an enabling atmosphere. 
While engaging teachers and parents, we learned that they developed positive social norms, broke down myths, and acquired knowledge on Menstrual Health Education, and Management which changed their thinking. “I used to think menstruation was a women’s issue. It is the responsibility of parents to buy pads for their daughter at home.” 
Most parents were challenged with early pregnancy and dropouts in neighbouring schools because girls were engaging in early sex. They worked collectively to create awareness and sensitisation. Although, they encouraged IIEA to scale up the project to other areas for increased information sharing among the affected girls and boys in order for them to make informed decisions and choices. The stakeholders such as the community development officers, teachers, and district municipal leadership appreciate the role played by IIEA. They stressed the need for more awareness and sensitisation to change the norms. Pupils recognised the importance of menstrual health education and management in their lives. IIEA’s mandate is to end period poverty and empower women and girls to pursue their goals, attain their full potential unlimited by periods. This is why we are going limitless! 
Salima Sadiya and Patricia Humura, IIEA team



No Comments

Post a Comment