Menstrual health dialogue in Namatooke Village
REPORT ON “Training 100 men & 40 boys in Uganda on menstruation” project by African Child and Youth Development Initiative (ACYDI), Uganda – July, 2021.
In such a hard time when Uganda undergoes a second wave of the corona virus, a second lockdown has been imposed since the beginning of June and became stricter with curfew and much strong movement restrictions from mid-June. Schools and other community gatherings like churches, mosques, markets and meetings are always closed first to curb the spread of the virus.
In such a time of continued lockdown, many girls are locked down with their big brothers, fathers and other male relatives who are potential perpetrators for these girls. Hence, a big risk to all forms of harassment and violence which leads to unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections HIV included for the adolescent girls.
Many of the parents lost their jobs which were the sources of income hence increased poverty yet they have to feed the families and take care of their children. The poor parents who had started understanding menstruation and supporting their girls through their periods have started going back to the bad and poor practice of either stopping the support or even to the worst giving their girls away to those men with money in exchange of food, money and other material things that can get them through the lockdown. Parents especially men look at menstruation as a sign of maturity for a girl and readiness for marriage and producing of babies.
This calls for more efforts to sensitize the communities so that instead the men and boys continue supporting the menstruating girls to get access to safe and hygienic menstrual materials and also protect them from perpetrators of harassment and abuse of all kinds.
Menstruation and menstrual hygiene management still remain a taboo in most of the communities as it’s being taken as women and girls only issue.
Actions taken so far:
- Currently, the team at ACYDI is engaged in a door to door campaign to families with adolescent girls assessing their situations and encouraging them to support these during their periods and the parents to be open enough so that their girls can inform them in case of any form of harassment to them on time before the perpetrators run away.
- As the students were prepared to report back to schools after the first lockdown and through the period of March to mid-June 2021 before strict lockdown, ACYDI held 5 community dialogues on issues of menstrual health, adolescent reproductive health and the team sensitized the communities of over 250 people about menstrual health management, its impact on girl child education and how each of the stakeholders starting from parents, brothers, sisters, local councils can support. Many people came to discover how bad they have been to the girls and women without knowing while over practicing myths.
- There was distribution of scholastic materials worth $30 for each of the 100 students including books, pens, pencils, and mathematical sets, long rulers for the vulnerable girls & boys who were in classes allowed to attend school. 100 pupils (70 girls and 30 boys) in different classes from 3 partner schools in the island were supported hence $3,000.
- The island nature of our community geographically limits us from reaching out to most villages where poor menstrual health practices are more prominent. It requires some much money for boat hire to cross the waters from one village to the other.
- Due to the continued restrictions caused by corona virus, very few people can be met in the meetings hence limiting the reach of the menstruation & adolescent’s reproductive health message to the intended coverage by the planned time.
- The new covid-19 wave caused a second lockdown which has limited us from reaching out to schools and communities as planned
- Limited financial resources as individuals and corporate donors reduced and/or stopped contributing as many lost jobs and businesses respectively.
As the lockdown gets lifted, we plan to go on to train on menstruation and pads making in communities since schools aren’t yet to open.
Training on income generating activities for girls and women to be able earn a living since most of their parents lost jobs
Community engagement with elders