Primary schools receive training on menstruation and sanitation

Alina and Joyce (shown in the picture) are part of our project that focuses on educating girls and boys in primary school about menstruation. In Tanzania, menstruation still is a delicate subject, which is partly due to the culture of silence that surrounds it. In many cases girls cannot even consult their parents about menstruation. The lack of information about menstruation and the availability of feminine hygiene products also contribute to the difficult situation.

Many girls choose not to go to school when they are menstruating. This is partly because many people cannot afford to buy hygiene products, and partly because of the fear of being teased if they bleed through their temporary menstrual protection. Such protection often consists of pieces of fabric, newspaper, ash or cow manure mixed with grass, which contributes to infections in the genital area and poses an increased risk of sterilization. Often, there are no sanitary toilets with running water where they can change their protection and clean up, which also contributes to missed school days during menstruation.

Our goal is to reduce the stigma that is associated with menstruation, and to ensure that girls in primary school are not limited in their education because of the lack of feminine hygiene products. We therefore educate girls like Alina and Joyce in reproductive health, hygiene, about what happens in a girl’s body when she menstruates, and we support the girls by providing them with reusable fabric hygiene products. We also show them how they can manufacture more pads themselves, so that the project becomes sustainable in the long term. The boys in the school are also included in the project, and they too receive training on menstruation and hygiene. By focusing on both girls and boys, we can work more sustainably to change social standards and also influence power structures in society so that all children gain equal rights.

Currently, we have educated 2,200 children in primary school in Tanzania about menstruation together with our partner organisation, OKIA Tanzania.

The girls in the picture go to Songambele primary school and show their kits with reusable hygiene products.

Cate at our partner organization OKIA Tanzania demonstrates and compares reusable fabric hygiene products with ordinary pads.

Sara Andersson