In many parts of the world, girls do not go to school when they are menstruating.
One of the reasons for this is poverty: the cost of menstrual products, such as sanitary napkins, can be out of reach for many families. Other reasons for missing school stem from cultural beliefs and the stigma surrounding menstruation.
Girls on the move are particularly affected, as they often live in environments where menstrual health and hygiene (MHH) is not a priority.
At JRS, we address some of the barriers to girls’ access and retention in school by:
- Provide MHH materials and supplies
“The period prevented me from going to school… I had nothing to wear.”, BANA GANA, 15 years old
Too often, girls lack the MHH equipment and supplies that would allow them to experience their period in a safe and relaxed way.
Providing washable and reusable sanitary pads, as well as other necessary supplies, such as soap, buckets and storage bags, can be an immediate and effective way to restore girls’ dignity and help them stay safe. ‘school.
- Construction and maintenance of MHH facilities
“We are forced to hide in the bush to change sanitary napkins.” KAIKAI, 14
A holistic approach to MHH cannot stop with materials and supplies. For girls to take care of their menstrual health with peace of mind, adequate and safe facilities are needed.
In schools where JRS works, this means ensuring girl-friendly toilets and washing areas. These should be secure and conveniently located, they should provide privacy through doors and locks, and they should be equipped with waste disposal options and good lighting.
* “I will talk to my fellow boys and ask them to offer support to girls during their periods; to give girls respect and the right information.” HEAD BOY AFTER COMPLETING JRS MHH TRAINING.
Raising awareness and education about menstrual health is essential to ensure that girls feel confident enough to attend school during their period.
Unfortunately, in many places there are still myths and taboos about menstruation. Girls are not getting the information they need to comfortably manage their periods. As a result, they may feel shame, embarrassment, guilt – even fear – when they start menstruating. Stigma around menstruation can also lead to bullying and violence at school.
MHH education informs and empowers girls to feel more comfortable with their periods and take care of their health. However, to truly end the stigma surrounding menstruation, it is necessary to include boys and men in MHH education. This is essential to creating a supportive school and community environment.