Improving menstrual health will reduce on the chances of girls missing schools

The Alliance Youth Bonanza celebrated in style at Bugabwe Primary School, Iganga district and it was organised by SRHR Alliance Uganda; aimed at creating an open space to address menstrual health stigma which often comes from deep-rooted superstitions and tales that paint girls and women who menstruate as unclean or impure

Students holding different placards showing painful messages.

Different schools across the country attended including Nakigo Secondary school; schools performed Poems, dances, skits emphasizing on the importance of keeping clean during menstruation, and saying that male involvement to end menstrual stigma is the way to go this era.

Pupils performing a poem on Menstrual hygiene at Bagubwe Primary School, Alliance Youth Bonanza celebrations day.

“The theme focused on menstrual health management as a pre cursor to transforming education for students in Uganda, we believe that by investing in menstrual health management for girls; we build confidence and esteem to normalize menses” – Olgah Daphyn Namukuza, Youth country director SRHR Alliance Uganda

On the right hand side is Olgah Daphyn Namukuza, Youth country director SRHR Alliance Uganda

At Alliance youth bonanza celebrations day that took place in Iganga last week, I discovered that menstruation is horror most especially in rural areas, that girl can run out of the pads. The woman mere seconds belting a towel, banana fibers between her thighs, missing work days, missing schools, that is how bloody it is, women need to be respected and given leave while in menstrual circle

Every cool girl/women gets their period differently, with many pads companies in Uganda, I have been super intrigued by the idea that a girl can just bleed freely into her pad and worry no more but the cost of pads are still expensive and some can’t afford them

As you know, some girls bleed a whole hell of a lot. If we’d been wiser, girls would be receiving free pads, tampons. Sometimes menstrual forces her to spend the rest of menstrual days at home? Yes. But even this hasn’t changed from the past. Now, what is the government doing on school drop out, HIV infections, early child marriages, teenage pregnancies?

Girls should be given pads at no cost. School going girls need to have access to pads in order for them to go to class when they are confident and not worried about menstrual stains. Girls who go for Physical Education should have access to Pads in order for them to enjoy fully without worrying about anything. Girls should always feel free to wear pads at home, when going for meetings, visits, to public places among other places because menstruation is healthy and they should be proud of it” – Frank Byaruhanga, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights advocate

Imagine a new country that is created by bold young women, coming together to decide their own futures and shaping the decisions that affect not only their lives, but their communities

In the bonanza youth day celebrations, met Meno Charles, who is fighting for Sexual Reproductive Health rights for women and girls in Uganda; Meno Charles, an activist, Sexual Reproductive Health Advocate and National Programs Coordinator at SRHR Alliance Uganda is mentoring the next generation of boys and girls and he wants to end menstruation discrimination in communities

Meno Charles, an activist, Sexual Reproductive Health Advocate and National Programs Coordinator at SRHR Alliance Uganda

We know that when young women have right information, they become stronger, are more able to stand up for their rights, and are better equipped to step into community roles in the future

During Alliance youth bonanza celebrations so many advocates added their voices using the hash tag #AllianceYouthBonanza and urged the government to do something for the girl-child and here are they reactions;

“93% girls missed 1-3 days of school on an average every month, which translates into 8-24 days per year. In order to accelerate girls’ full and equal participation and retention in primary schools we need to handle menstrual hygiene as a public health issue” – Source: CEHURD https://twitter.com/cehurduganda/status/1164505758425329666?s=20

Stigma around menstruation and menstrual hygiene is a violation of human rights. Educating young people about menstrual hygiene is vital to health, dignity, women empowerment and productivity of girls. ~ @thyMarianakay

Educating women and girls about menstrual hygiene management enables them to reach their full potential and accomplish their goals without distraction. ~ @kyagangel

Menstruation should not be a reason for a girl to miss school – Jacqueline Twemanye @JacTwems

To manage menstruation hygienically, women and girls need to have access to correct and accurate information, sanitary wear, washing facilities, changing rooms and proper disposal facilities. ~ @KukuAnne

Menstrual stigma has today made the girl child drop out of sch, they are lacking materials to use and they can’t afford sanitary pads. Can’t our government provide free sanitary pads to all girls such that they keep in school and fulfill their dreams – @fbyaruhanga_

Periods are natural therefore no need to be ashamed of them. We should encourage boys and Men to support our Girls in order to have Good Menstrual hygiene such that they can achieve their dreams that’s transforming Education – @muzirajohnson

Here are some of the photos,

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Frank Byaruhanga is a human rights activist with years of experience in community dialogues, digital communication, advocacy and digital campaigns. He specializes in Media Relation Work, Management and Training with sufficient knowledge in Governance, Accountability, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, Youth-led research, Content developer, Creative Activism, Social Media Management and documentary photography.

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