some of the girls already in menstruating stage
REPORT ON “Training 100 men & 40 boys in Uganda on menstruation” project by African Child and Youth Development Initiative (ACYDI), Uganda – June, 2020.
Menstrual management has been reported as the leading cause of absenteeism, dropout among school girls in Uganda. The Ugandan government through ministry of education & sports estimates approximately 23% of girls between the ages of 10 -18 drop out of school after beginning menstruation. It is an issue that is insufficiently acknowledged & has not received adequate attention in the reproductive health and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sectors in developing countries and its relationship with and impact on achieving many Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS) is rarely acknowledged. In order to reduce the rate of school absenteeism, dropout, early marriage and teenage pregnancies for girls of reproductive age in primary & secondary schools in Buvuma & Mukono districts in Uganda, ACYDI planned to train 100 men and 40 boys on menstruation and these will be the role-models and advocates to other men and boys. This will increase access to menstrual health support materials, scholastic materials and improving Knowledge, Attitude & Practice on menstrual health management (MHM) among males and females. Girls and boys of reproductive age will have increased access to the right information on sexual reproductive health & will be able to support each other thus staying and competing their education.
Progress and Women’s day celebrations;
Changing a behavior, a culture or a traditional norm of a community requires a lot of efforts and takes a longer time, thus, planning to delay in some of the planned activities. However, ACYDI team has been able so far to meet with the district local government in both Buvuma and Mukono to seek permission to engage the intended leaders/policy makers and boys who will join women and girls in communities and schools. A TOR (Terms of reference) was developed, submitted for review and now approved by the district education and health offices as assigned by the Chief Administrative Officers. The 2 schools where boys will be trained together with girls were already identified as well as the categories of leaders by the time of the Covid19 lockdown. Some training materials including stationary and local pads making materials were procured and as some have been used during this lockdown training.
- Using the advantage of the International Women’s day/week also using the #EachforEqual theme, on Wednesday, March 11th 2020 I with the ACYDI team organized initial dialogues with one community and we selected school committee there to form our school health club and discussed about how the different stakeholders right from the village level may participate in ensuring that this project is successfully implemented without conflicting with the traditional cultures.
- We successfully selected the school health club that will first be trained as child-to-child mentors on menstruation at Bukaali Primary School comprising of 15 girls and 15 boys with their leadership selected. The school health club with the school senior woman, man and head teachers were briefed about the project and they were so excited, willing and committed to stand up to empower all girls in their community around Bukaali.
- After engaging the school during the morning hours, we proceeded with my team in the afternoon to meet and dialogue with the local community and discussed issues around girls and women empowerment including the menstruation for education training. Here, we continued to discover different myths and traditional beliefs about menstruation and growth that hinder girls and women from succeeding both professionally and personally. Men, youths and women in this dialogue were amazed of how misled they were and committed to participate in this project and now waiting for more community dialogues.
- As menstruation is taken to be traditionally a taboo and a shame to be spoken about among men and boys, so it’s been so hard for us to introduce it and to convince the district leadership which comprises of majority (almost 75%) men that this is something of a concern and needs to be a topic of discussion and training. Many are still hesitant but after various meetings and discussions with the help of the district women’s council, our leaders have picked up interest and many traditional leaders have expressed interest in attending the training which may even shoot the numbers higher than the targeted.
- COVID19 Lockdown; Due to the total Covid19-pandemic’s lockdown that led to closure of public places and gathering schools inclusive, we have not held many of our planned activities with men and boys due to the restrictions. The trainings and dialogues target schools, district and village committees and structures and call for gatherings during dialogues. Being remotely situated in Islands with very poor network, our efforts to put sessions online also failed.
- We have tried our best to reach out to the girls and teen mothers with emergency menstrual health facilities including pads, buckets and soap with education/sensitisation on both menstrual health and general hygiene and sanitation, frequent hand-washing to prevent the spread of CORONA VIRUS/COVID19 through door-to-door approach as we wait the situation to normalize. Buvuma Islands has registered more COVID-19 positive cases and a big threat to the communities hence more efforts needed to handle both COVID-19 and Menstrual health, sexual reproductive issues as many girls are now home with men and bigger boys who are their perpetrators.
As the lock down is being lifted slowly, ACYDI team has planned to engage small groups of girls and boys at village level on MHM training and making of local pads as well as women and men in dialogues on how to support the girls during this period while following the SOPs vy the MoHealth. We have identified village mentors who are willing to learn menstrual health and pads making and will transfer the knowledge and skills to the rest in the villages as we wait schools and public gatherings to open.
For this, materials have been procured and by Mid-July we shall be starting.
If resources can allow, we are also continuing with MHM material distribution to the vulnerable girls and teen mothers as emergency measures as they wait to learn how to make pads locally.
Door-to-door sensitisation on hygiene and sanitation/hand-washing for COVID19 prevention will continue too.
We can’t thank you enough our donors for your generous support and we promise not to disappoint your giving hand.
From Prossy Nakattudde, Director of Programs
On behalf of African Child and Youth Development Initiative (ACYDI), Uganda.
Boys ready to become change agents
Elected leaders for school health club
Parents/leaders who attended the dialogue meeting