In rural Uganda, many women and girls struggle to pay for food or education, let alone menstrual pads. Additionally, there are many myths, misunderstandings, and taboos around menstruation. As a result, most women use unsanitary scraps of cloth to manage their periods and in many cases aren't permitted to leave their homes while menstruating. Through our weekly trainings, we teach women, men, boys and girls about the facts of menstruation and how to make their own re-useable pads.
Currently, almost all women in Mpigi, Uganda use old news papers, leaves, banana fibers, rugs, sponges to manage their periods. Most do not have enough money to buy sanitary pads or are too fearful to ask their fathers or husbands to purchase them. There are also many myths about menstruation in Uganda, including that a girl on her period will curse anyone she meets or can bring bad luck to her school or workplace. As a result, many women and girls have to remain at home during menstruation.
For less than $1 USD girl can sew her own reusable sanitary pad that can last for up to a year. Each week, we host 2-day trainings at community centers to dispel the myths about menstruation and teach attendees how to make their own pads. We include men and boys as well so that they learn how to support women and girls on their periods. Thus far, we have taught 300 individuals to make and use their own pads, which they can continue to make into the future.
In addition to offering a more sanitary method of menstruation management, the pads can also provide a source of income to women. Many have started their own businesses selling the pads and support their families or pay for school tuition with the funds. Furthermore, owning pads protects girls from dropping out, because they miss school while on their periods, or marrying early. Many girls date and are impregnated by older men who can purchase pads for them, an issue avoided through the project.
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