Female students in our communities face great challenges in terms of hygiene and sanitation. Many schools in our rural areas have insufficient numbers of latrines, which are often poorly designed and maintained. For girls who are menstruating, these problems compound the difficulties posed by the inability to afford sanitary pads as well as cultural taboos around menstruation. As a result, many girls miss on average four days of school every month which is over a month in a year.
The main problems faced by our school girls in terms of hygiene and sanitation are as follows: Pads are too expensive to buy on a monthly basis, causing absenteeism where girls stay at home rather than attending school when menstruating. Inadequate waste disposal facilities. Lack of privacy for changing menstrual materials. Leakage from poor-quality protection materials. Limited education about the facts of menstruation. Fear caused by cultural myths. Embarrassment and low self-esteem.
The adoption of reusable sanitary pads is more compelling to the girls due to the following reasons: It is a hygienically approved, high-quality, affordable reusable product that responds to users tastes and preferences for self-comfort and personal hygiene. The product can be used for a period of at least one year. Thus the girls will be able to attend school without worrying about menses and there will be a significant reduction of girl-parent dependency for sanitary towels every month.
In the long-term, we aim at achieving the following: 1. Girls will not have to miss school simply because they are menstruating. 2. Girls will know that they can discuss problems connected to menstruation with health extension workers, other healthcare professionals who may be available, as well as their teachers. 3. AID Tanzania will ensure that girls from other regions will also benefit from similar projects to ensure that many more girls do not miss school just because they are menstruating.