Meeting traditional cultural & religious leaders
REPORT ON “Training 100 men & 40 boys in Uganda on menstruation” project by African Child and Youth Development Initiative (ACYDI), Uganda – March , 2021.
Menstrual health management has been reported as one of the leading cause of frequent absenteeism and eventually dropout among school girls in Uganda. From the recent research, Buvuma Islands district is one of the most affected with high levels of child marriage, school dropout, drug abuse and HIV/AIDS among youths especially girls. It’s on this background that ACYDI developed the concept of menstrual health management through engaging different stakeholders at all levels of the project concept.
Stakeholders’ engagement is one of the most powerful strategies in project cycle management and success of any development project. These are the different people, individuals or groups, organisations or entities which can positively or negatively affect the implementation of the project. For girls and young women as the immediate direct beneficiaries of this project, boys and men of reproductive age at schools, community, community management and local government levels are taken to be the key stakeholders. These always have poor perception on menstruation and tag different myths and wrong information on the menstrual issues thus also making it a taboo to speak about it in public. It requires a lot of efforts to change the poor attitudes and behaviours of especially men and boys when it comes to menstruation. The poor habits and practices culturally instilled make menstruation a women matter yet it affects both female and males productivity. When a girl learns or a woman learns how to handle menstrual issues, they become productive both at school and at home/work thus economic development which also reduces the burden of home care by men.
Actions taken so far:
- Through the period October 2020 to February 2021, ACYDI held different stakeholders workshops at both local government/district and community levels to engage men and boys on menstruation and how they can play their roles in supporting girls’ education.
- A total of 29 men at the district level and over 50 at community level were engaged in Buvuma islands. These included the local government head of departments i.e., Education office, Health office, Chief administrative officer, LC5 Chairperson, health inspector of schools, sub county chiefs among others. All these are at the level of policy makers whom if they understand their roles and responsibilities towards safe and healthy menstrual health management for girls and women they will make friendly policies and will help advocate the same in their communities using their offices as they hold some levels of influence hence changing community perceptions.
- These workshops also included traditional religious and cultural leaders from all-over the district i.e. Buganda kingdom representative (Mboobi), district caddie for Muslim community, head of protestant community, head of catholic, head of Pentecostal and head of Adventists in Buvuma. These also learnt how the different cultural and religious beliefs affect menstrual health management and education for girls and how they can participate to influence and lead the change. These committed themselves to work with ACYDI on this matter as they learnt the correct information that has been since hidden from them.
- One of these leaders testified having lost all his 3 big sisters at a young/teenage age to marriage with very old men when he as a big boy in the house was just happy to see the sisters getting married after they started menstruating. “I am this old and learnt but it’s at this moment that I learn why my sisters were married off early. I wish I had this information on menstruation and its effects by them!, I wish that time when I was in Senior two S.2, our teachers had already taught us this! Unfortunately, one of them died giving birth to her 1st borne, one of them contracted HIV/AIDS as she was married to a married man with 2 other wives and the young one ran away from where she was married to and she wasn’t found up to date”. He shed tear and there was an emotional moment from all the participants. This leader of the Anglican community vowed to join the team of the change makers and will mobilise the congregation for as long as he gets the right information and we also promised to put him as part of the ToT training.
- COVID19 Lockdown; the continued lockdown has limited us from reaching out to the intended boys and men in schools and communities as dialogues are still limited
- Limited resources and finances to handle more girls and also carry out menstrual health support yet some classes at schools still remain closed for non-finalist/non-candidate classes.
- Due to the lockdown, ACYDI’s finances reduced drastically as we usually mobilized our donations from individual contributors and companies that aren’t yet back to normal work as before, hence, limiting our work and targets.
Training on menstruation and pads making in communities as girls arent all yet back to schools
Training on income generating activities for AGYWs and girls to be able earn a living
We can’t thank you enough our donors for your generous support and we promise not to disappoint your giving hand.
From Robert Kikonyogo, Executive Director
On behalf of African Child and Youth Development Initiative (ACYDI), Uganda.
DHO addressing district team appreciates ACYDI
Buvuma District leaders learning MHM matters
Prossy facilitating the MHM session to officials