The ministry of Education has embarked on teaching school-going girls in both primary and secondary schools to make reusable sanitary pads as opposed to the earlier promise of providing disposable ones on a monthly basis.
President Museveni, during the 2016 Presidential elections, pledged to provide sanitary pads for every school-going girl so that they do not run out of school when their menstruation periods start, a promise that never materialized.
Ms Harriet Nanyanzi, an official in the education ministry’s gender and equity unit, said that the programme implemented in partnership with different non-government organizations has so far reached over 1000 schools since last year.
“We realized that it is not sustainable to provide sanitary pads but what needs to be done is girls be taught how to make them,” Ms Nanyanzi stated, adding that government would have to spend Shs9000 on every girl each term if they were to provide which is a lot of money.
Ms Nanyanzi also added that: “The gender and equity budget [under the education ministry] is looking at key issues including menstrual hygiene. We have been to the whole Karamoja and many other schools in the central and western region.”
She made the revelation about the on-going programme last week while attending a school event at Trust High School, Gayaza located in Wakiso district, where a total of 300 girls were given two packets of disposable pads and one packet of reusable pads each.
The pads, in addition to free training on how to make reusable sanitary towels, were given by Kabubbu Development Project, a sexual and reproductive health local NGO in Wakiso district.
Ms Susan Babirye the head of the Health Department in Kabubbu Development project said that they have, since 2012, supported girls from ten schools in Kabubbu Parish found in Wakiso District’s Kasangati Town council, with free sanitary pads every term.
“We started this program after a needs assessment indicated that more girls in this parish [Kabubbu] were missing school because they did not have pads and were using toilet papers. Our aim is to make the girls stay girls stay longer in school and menstruation should not be a hindrance to their education,” Ms Babirye noted.
Findings in the past have also indicated that, in a desperate move to cope with menstruation, hundreds of girls in Uganda are forced to trade their bodies in exchange for money to buy pads in order to stay in school.
Many other girls are also reportedly forced to drop out of school to avoid mockery from their male counterparts whenever they go into menstruation and stain their clothes while at school because they have no sanitary pads to use.