Teachers play a fundamental role in supporting girls to enjoy menstruation with dignity

Menstruation  is  an integral  and  normal  part  of  human  life,  indeed  of  human  existence.  Menstrual hygiene  is  fundamental  to  the  dignity  and  wellbeing  of  women  and  girls  and  an  important  part  of  the basic  hygiene,  sanitation  and  Reproductive  Health  services  to  which  every  woman  and  girl  has  a  right.

Globally,  approximately  52%  of  the  female  population  (26%  of  the  total  population)  is  of  reproductive age. Most of these women and girls will menstruate each month for between two and seven days.

Menstruation being a normal experience that girls go through, It has of late become a very big challenge to most girls and women who do not know how to cope with this experience. Many girls miss school every month because of different reasons surrounding menstruation like; stigma and discrimination, myths and misconceptions, pain and lack proper and recommended materials and facilities to use during menstruation. For example many girls from poor backgrounds in Uganda can’t afford sanitary pads and some go to school that luck washing facilities, changing rooms, disposal facilities among others. Where these exist, they are not of required quality and standard as there is no confidentiality, at times you find boys and girls share the same toilets and the same washing facilities. Knowledge about menstruation hygiene and management is also lucking among students, teachers and parents and this has been the major cause of stigma and discrimination.

Girls from Mother Kevin Primary School in Namanve Mukono pause for a picture after a session on menstruation hygiene and management that was conducted by Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum. Most of these girls expressed the need for increased access to sanitary materials.

The light of the above, levels of absenteeism among school girls continue to increase which in a long run may result into poor performance and high school dropout rates for girls in the country. This poses a very big threat to girls as it exposes them to risk factors like; early marriages, early pregnancies, gender based violence, social exclusion and gender inequality and in a long run, this deprives them of their opportunities to realize their full potential

In an effort to address some of the major challenges faced by young girls during menstruation and provide collective sustainable solutions, Uganda Youth and Adolescent Health Forum (UYAHF) in partnership with Public Health Ambassadors Uganda (PHAU) on the 20th of January held a teachers capacity building training on Menstruation Hygiene and Management with an overall goal of training and equipping teachers with information on the fundamental role that good menstrual hygiene management (MHM) plays in enabling women and girls to reach their full potential and live quality lives with equity and dignity. The training attended by over 12 teachers from various secondary and primary schools was also aimed at reflecting and evaluating the Ensonga campaign and its impact on the beneficiaries, assess challenges as well as suggest way forward and next steps for the second phase.