In commemoration of the world menstrual hygiene day, Uganda Youth and Adolescent Health Forum (UYAHF) on 28th May 2022 held a school outreach at Demiro primary school in Mbale to create awareness on Menstrual hygiene management among the pupils.

Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day) is commemorated annually on the 28th of May and is a global platform that brings together non-profit organizations, government agencies, individuals, the private sector, and the media to catalyze advocacy and action toward a world where women and girls are no longer limited because of their monthly periods.

This year the day was commemorated under the theme; ‘Making mensuration a normal fact of life by 2030!

 The outreach was organized with the objectives; to raise awareness and break the stigma, taboos, and myths surrounding menstrual hygiene management among the public including in schools and communities, to raise awareness around the MHM challenges that women and girls face, to Train and equip teachers and people in the community with information about the fundamental role of good menstrual hygiene management in enabling women and girls to reach their full potential and To advocate for the integration of menstrual health in all programs targeting adolescent girls and young women.

It brought together 70 primary school pupils including 36 boys and 34 girls from p.4 to P.7 who were taught what menstruation is, good h practices during menstruation, dispelling menstrual stigma, and how boys can support girls during menstruation.

The outreach kicked off in the afternoon with an opening remark from the headmistress of Demiro primary Mrs. Masibo Sarah who urged the pupils to be attentive and participate in all the sessions during the outreach.

 “You are blessed to have a team from UYAHF to teach you about this important topic that you may not learn from anyone. So, I want you to pay attention so that you can gain the knowledge that you can also pass on to your friends not only at school here but also in the community” she added.

 This was followed by a quiz session, facilitated by Kairanya Edith, a UYAHF change champion. During the session, Edith posed random questions about menstruation to the pupils to measure their knowledge about MHM.

 This was followed by a session on what menstruation and menstrual hygiene are and was facilitated by Dr. Namonyo Franco, the in-charge UYAHF ADH clinic.

 Dr. Franco told the pupils that menstruation is normal and every girl will have to experience it and urged the girls to always learn more about it so that it doesn’t happen as a shock to them.

 “At least when you reach puberty, one of the natural and must experiences you will go through is menstruation as a girl. And when it happens, don’t shy away, feel free to share with the senior women teacher or your mother so that they can help you out” added Franco

Amidst his presentation, Nabukwasi Esther, a primary six pupil asked whether one is able to get pregnant during menstruation.

Responding to the question, Dr. Franco told the pupils that it is possible for a girl to get pregnant during her period. This might happen when: A girl has bleeding that she thinks is a period, but it’s bleeding from ovulation.

 “Another consideration is that a man’s sperm can live inside a woman for up to 72 hours after ejaculation. Toward the end of your period, your chances of becoming pregnant will increase if you have sex”

 He however encouraged the pupils to abstain from sex and concentrate on their books until they are mature enough to hold the pregnancy.

 Among the key challenges, the girls pointed out as challenges they face during their menstrual periods include stigma from friends especially boys, unaffordable sanitary pads, menstrual pain, and lack of water to clean themselves while at school.

 “It is hard to change a pad at school because sometimes you need water to wash yourself before changing but sometimes water is not there so you end up staying with the same pad for the whole day and you end up smelling bad” Nelima rose. Primary six

 “Some of our parents are not willing to buy our pads, they say they are expensive so we end up borrowing from friends who come from good families and when they give you one or two, you stay with it for a long time because you don’t have others to change” Akello Juliet, primary seven.

 “You see these boys when they know that you are menstruating, they spread the news to the whole class and whenever you pass, they laugh at you and call you dirty” Namome Susan

 The outreach was concluded by an interesting session led by Mr. Daniel, a health worker at the Adolescent health clinic where he practically taught them how to correctly attach a sanitary pad on a Nikas and how to put it on. In return, the boys willingly came forward and demonstrated the same and they vowed to be supportive to the girls during their menstruation.

The school headmistress thanked UYAHF for considering carrying out an outreach at the school and committed to addressing the issue of inadequate washing facilities and ensuring that girls menstruate with dignity without any stigma.