Sanitary pads are very hard to buy because the economy is high. Mum cannot give you the money to buy. Not everybody can even get enough money to buy a cotton wool or tissue paper and using a cloth we always fear because it may fall off while with friends.
— Anonymous (15 years old, Kasese, Uganda)
1. Millions of girls living in countries like Uganda skip up to 20% of the school year simply because they cannot afford to buy mainstream sanitary products when they menstruate.
2. 25% of girls and women in rural Uganda use traditional materials like cloth or paper or tissue, with 10% of girls under 15 years of age depending on makeshift items.
3. Ugandan schoolgirls reported concerns around safe disposal of products, believing that witch doctors could place curses using their menstrual blood.
4. On average, Ugandan schoolgirls reported missing 24 days out of 220 learning days in a year; translating into 11% of school days missed due to menstruation.
5. In Western parts of Uganda country cattle owners do not let menstruating women attend to their cows, for fear that the milk may turn bloody.
6. Lack of appropriate products is one of the principle reasons that girls do not attend school during their period in Uganda.
7. Over half of Ugandan schoolgirls asked stated that the lack of anywhere to wash or change was affecting their school attendance.
8. A supply of sanitary pads for one girl in Uganda cost one tenth of the family income – a ‘luxury’ most families cannot afford.
9. A study of rural Ugandan females revealed that 2/3 of pad users received the item from sexual partners; receipt was lower among women with violent partners, and 10% of 15 year olds reported engaging in sex for money to buy pads.
References:1) http://afripads.com/ 2) + 9) Phillips-Howard PA, et al. (2015) Menstrual Needs and Associations with Sexual and Reproductive Risks in Rural Kenyan Females: A Cross-Sectional Behavioral Survey Linked with HIV Prevalence. J Womens Health. (10):801-11. 3) Crofts, T. & Fisher, J. (2012) Menstrual Hygiene in Ugandan schools: An Investigation of Low-cost Sanitary Pads. Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development. 2 (1), 50-58. 4) Study on menstrual management in Uganda. The Netherlands Development Organization (SNV)/IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre. 5) Ten, V. T. A. (2007) Menstrual Hygiene : A Neglected Condition for the Achievement of Several Millennium Development Goals. Europe External Policy Advisors. 6) Crofts, T. & Fisher, J. (2012) Menstrual Hygiene in Ugandan schools: An Investigation of Low-cost Sanitary Pads. Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development. 7) Irise 2013 – An Assessment of Menstrual Hygiene Practices and Absenteeism in Western Uganda. 8) Averbach, S. et al. (2009) Duet for menstrual protection: a feasibility study in Zimbabwe. Contraception. 79 (6), 463–468.
My period used to come so much that it would even prevent me from coming to school. When I used that cup I found it was good because once it is full I would know and go and change. Even now I stay freely among my friends.
Staying at school when you have inserted the cup doesn’t disturb your head because once you insert it, it collects all the blood inside and it doesn’t leak like when you are using the pad, which you have to keep changing, otherwise it leaks.
It is so good to have a cup, it should be extended to younger girls in school, they also need it, you know a young girl can even get HIV-positive by looking for money to buy pads, if she prostitutes herself, it will really help our girls.
You feel blood flows very much and when you come to school in the morning even if you bathed in the morning by the time you go back home in the evening all in between your thighs rub and get dirty and you will feel even walking is difficult but when you are using the cup and come to school you come and stay in school freely as if you are not in your periods and it doesn’t show any sign on you.
“I hate menstruation because I have to miss school during those days and I love my school. There are no facilities where I can change and dispose menstrual waste which is why my mother always makes me stay home.”
— Kishori (Bettiah, India)
The Good News
1. Sustainable solutions to menstrual management such as menstrual cups are proving to be successful for young women in Uganda; the majority of a pilot study group found Ruby Cup to be an acceptable alternative to what they currently use.
2. Girls reported feeling more ‘happy and comfortable’ whilst menstruating after using reusable sanitary pads and learning about menstrual health at school.
3. A Ghanian study found that girls’ attendance increased substantially after receiving free sanitary pads and puberty education.
4. Many NGOs & social businesses are making enormous progress on delivering menstrual health education, like designing fun and games-based curricula that engages both boys and girls.
References: 1) Tellier M, Hyttel M, Gad M (2012). Pilot study report, WoMena Ltd: Assessing acceptability and hygienic safety of menstrual cups as menstrual management method for vulnerable young women in Uganda Red Cross Society’s LifePlanning Skills Project. Kampala, Uganda. 2) Irise International (2012) INSPIRES : INvestigating a reusable Sanitary Pad Intervention in a Rural Educational Setting Pilot Study : Evaluating the acceptability and short [online]. Available from: http:// eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/43906/. 3) Montgomery et al., Sanitary Pad Interventions for Girls’ Education in Ghana, 2012. 4) See www.menstrualhygieneday.org/partner
Reasons to use a menstrual cup