Access to Menstrual Products in East Africa

by Femme International
Access to Menstrual Products in East Africa
Access to Menstrual Products in East Africa
Access to Menstrual Products in East Africa
Access to Menstrual Products in East Africa
Nov 3, 2020

Suitable menstrual products for people with Visual impairment?

Gift presentation to Buigiri School
Gift presentation to Buigiri School

As part of our engagement in the Tanzania MHM Coalition, we participated in a menstrual health awareness check-in with the Buigiri School in Dodoma, Tanzania. The students at Buigiri school have visual impairment disabilities, including blindness. 

Our team, lead by Elia, our team's first-ever-male menstrual health facilitator of our comprehensive menstrual health programme, Twaweza (We can - Swahili). Elia and three Femme volunteers were accompanied by the larger menstrual stakeholder community in Tanzania, comprising of educators, researchers, manufacturers,  and health sector players, both private and government with the overall investment in the greater impact of ensuring better policies and reform for menstrual health management in Tanzania. Reported highlights from the visit debrief minutes included:

An evaluation of the impact of the Hedhi Salama (Safe Periods) training by the TZ MHM Coalition group:

  1. 4 teachers acknowledged receiving of Hedhi Salama Training last year on 28TH May 2019.
  2. They acknowledged setting 1 out of 6 of the available toilets as a changing room and equipping the room with disposable pads, soap, dustbin, water and khanga(fabric/cloth) as the result of the training.
  3. Also, they have set aside a special area where they use for burning used menstrual pads; students also are aware on the importance of using dustbins to dispose of their used pads; before the training, the management of menstrual waste was a bit challenging and contributed a lot to the blocked sewage systems; but for now, they have managed to at least cease the impact of menstrual wastes to that school
  4. The school established a special fund for buying 36 disposable pads every month to cater for 15 menstruating girls age 14-16.

On challenges arising and way forward, they reported that:

  1. Visual disabilities made the management of washable pads very tricky, students didn’t know whether the pads were thoroughly cleaned, and if the environment they hanged them was sanitary.  Consequently, teachers decided to re-call the washable pads and burned them; however, the number of how many washable was burned was not available.
  2. Students complained a lot about menstrual cups; some students reported that the cups were painful; some students reported that they can’t sit when they use cups. Teachers decided to re-call all the cups from 3 students and burned them.
  3. The school did not establish WASH clubs in schools as they promised last year, and this has contributed to the continued silence among students, as well as teachers not to maximum utilize the knowledge they received during the Hedhi Salama training to bring a sustainable impact at Buigiri.

Menstruation is not a one-size-fits-all solution:

In the end, even when solutions are available, as we often note, through field lessons/experiences such as these, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to menstruation. 

Call to Action: Do you or someone in your network have ideas on a suitable product for menstruators with visual impairment?

What is the best product for those with visual impairment? Is there a way we can ensure that products include braille instructions to enable thorough cleaning? email us at info@femmeinternational.org

The session concluded with donations from the TZ MHM Coalition in donations made by individual organizations. We did not distribute menstrual products at this particular workshop under the circumstances. The full minutes of the meeting are attached to learn more about the events of the visit. 


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