Tackling Menstrual health in Uganda through our Develop with Dignity programme


Develop with Dignity
Whilst Dave’s daughter, Sarah Sankey, has been in Uganda she has been pioneering our Develop with Dignity programme across the Kumi district to produce a training model that can hopefully be replicated in other areas. Sarah has been conducting a survey, partly funded through Hub Cymru Africa, interviewing over 600 girls who have benefited from our distribution of sanitary wear and underwear in the past year to gauge the impact of the programme whilst looking at ways to improve it.

In the classroom

Sarah talking to Yr 6 about Menstrual health

What have we learnt?
The survey has firstly shown us how effective our Develop with Dignity programme has been with a 45% jump in school attendance from the distribution of sanitary wear and underwear! However, it has also taught us much about the attitudes to Menstrual Health in Uganda and the mindsets we have to overcome.

Sanitary pads are brand new in Kumi. When I went to school all I wore was three pairs of knickers during my periods

We’ve discovered that parents, and even teachers, are not aware of the benefits of supporting schoolgirls with sanitary products and have been wildly misinformed about Menstrual Health. Here are just some of things we’ve heard whilst talking to the girls and their senior teachers:

Periods are the vagina getting rid of “bad” blood from the body
Periods are the vagina crying because it is disappointed in you
To get rid of period pain you should have sex
Periods are a sign that you should be sexually active
You shouldn’t stand near boys whilst on your period because it will cause you to bleed more
Using condoms give you cancer
Our survey has suggested that 83% of girls aged from 12-19 have no clear idea why they have periods or how to manage them.

Where do we go from here?
We will be bringing volunteers from the NHS to help us run a 3 day teacher conference in October for 20 Primary 6/7 teachers from across the Kumi district to provide comprehensive Health and Social education covering Menstrual Health, Human Rights, HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections etc. We are really keen to empower the teachers with the factual information around Menstrual Health and Sex Ed. plus equip them with lesson plans and handouts so they are facilitated to educate their students.

In the classroom
Sarah and James are also planning on returning to 21 of the public sector schools in the region with further in-the-classroom training, teaching both the boys and the girls in years 6 & 7 about attitudes to Menstrual Health, Sex Ed., substance and physical abuse, and making positive choices. Initial classroom training has emphasised the need to include boys in this education program as the behaviour Sarah has encountered from the boys towards the girls when starting their periods has been of a bullying, mean and abusive nature from saying their periods are “punishments from God” or even to go as far as saying the girls are now ready for sex, children and marriage.

1-1 interview

Sarah running a 1-1 interview

Returning to the Survey
Lastly in this year we would like to return to the 40 schools who have, so far, benefited from the Develop with Dignity programme to interview the girls before they leave (hopefully) for further education. Sarah will also use this time to sit in on lessons and evaluate the materials senior teachers are using to educate their students to assess how effective our in-the-classroom training and teacher conference has been.

Please support
We have to tackle Menstrual Health Management because it is a barrier to education for these girls! Please help these young girls by helping us better educate their support network of teachers and peers so that they can develop with dignity!

A simple, life-transforming gift!
For just £5 per month help 12 schoolgirls manage their periods comfortably in school this year by giving monthly to T4U


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