Insights into basic statistics for Uganda on Menstrual Hygiene in schools reveal that ½ of the girls’ pupils Miss 1-3 school days a month, translating into 8-24 school days a year due to menstruation. This means 11% of the school term is lost. From a Water Aid Uganda survey, 40% of the total number of girls (P.1 –P.7) in a school were menstruating, 40% of the schools visited lacked separate changing and washing rooms for girls. In light of this, girls will use the general bathroom which is embarrassing or resort to missing school. To make matters worse, even the methods of disposal are lacking; 43% of sanitary materials are disposed off in pit latrines which easily fills them up; 34% are burnt directly in pits or refuse tanks.
This is therefore a very crucial item on Uganda’s gender agenda as it determines health Education, Dignity of girls and Women, yet it unfortunately has cultural attachments to it.
Where is the problem? Plan international notes that lack of access to information, knowledge and materials to effectively manage their periods creates panic and absence from school. In light with this, Plan has applied a holistic approach of training both boys and girls about the importance of Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM), designing and construction gender sensitive WASH facilities in schools, and also empowered local entrepreneurs like AFRI-pads to make and sell re-usable pads at an affordable price.
Recommendations from actors include; reduction of water costs by National Water and Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) especially to public institutions to ensure access to water, reduction of water loses in schools, search for alternative and cheaper sources of water to supplement NWSC like Rain Water harvesting, increment in budget allocations for MHM pads in schools.
Planned activities to celebrate today are;
- Advocacy walk at 8:00 am from YMCA Wandegeya to Parliament, where organizations involved in the National MHM steering committee will offer new charter to the speaker of parliament
- MHM day celebrations and festivals at the National Theater from 2:00 – 5:00 pm.
- An exhibition where several actors will showcase their products and services