I normally try to stay focussed on what we do at SEEDS but I could not resist trying to help keep girls in school for the whole month.
Patrick Maboshe, posted on Facebook the dire situation for girls in Mongu who often have to stay home from school during the week when they are menstruating.
Here is what he said;
Menstruation is a dream-killer for most girls, as they are unable to attend school during menstruation. On the other hand, those who cannot afford a good menstrual pad, rely on old rags as alternatives. There is no denying the detrimental health impacts faced by poor girls and women due to these unhygienic practices.
Girls living in rural areas of Zambia have no access to affordable modern commercially-produced disposable sanitary pads and are taught by older women what to use instead such as torn cloths, cow dung, dirty rags or mattress pieces, newspaper or even sand and leaves (rather like a sarong) is traditionally used but this is bulky and doesn’t stay in place so girls will stay at home, particularly from school during their menses. Doing this puts them at a huge risk of infection. This means that they miss lessons during schooling. Educating a girl means that they will a higher income, healthier baby, and be more involved in community activities and often, it helps break the cycle of extreme poverty.”
Under a new order, schools across the province of BC will now be required to provide free menstrual products for their students in all bathrooms. This new rule has been made effective as of April 5, 2019. This means that BC is the first province in Canada to require all schools to offer free tampons and pads to students. The Zambian government in 2017 announced the distribution of free sanitary towels in schools to girls in rural and peri-urban areas. Implementation has not progressed as expected as only a few schools have received this support. To move a step further, the government should fulfil its pledge of supporting girls have access to sanitary pads.
Only 18% of women in Zambia have access to modern sanitary protection yet little attention is given to this issue.
Therefore I contacted Maria at the Toronto Chapter of ” Days for Girls”, purchased 25 kits and made arrangements to send the sample kits, and all the materials for 5 different groups to start making them in Zambia.
The woodworking students of Bendale B.T.I highschool are making the pattern templates out of wood so they will last longer as it is sturdier than cardboard. We are just waiting for them to finish making them so I will send a follow up when they are done.
The kits include, 2 pairs of underwear, flannelette pads, pad holder to snap on underwear, bar of soap & wash cloth, 2 plastic bags to carry soiled pads home to be washed, instructions and a cute bag to carry it all in.
I send seeds to Zambia via DHL, see box I am getting ready in bottom left corner of picture, so I sent the kits & materials through DHL as well.
For the full report continue reading below.
The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Article 11: on Education Article 230 (1) of the Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act No. 2 of 2016 on the Bill of rights grants the right to education to all persons of Zambia.
By moving the motion in Parliament, the policy will make the Zambian Government through the Ministry of General Education to distribute free sanitary pads, improve and provide free Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) services by ending child marriages, reduce poverty and good school performance among girls in rural areas who miss school because they can’t afford to buy sanitary pads.
It has also been established by studies conducted by Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC, 2019) in Western province’s rural schools in Zambia that girls miss at least 36 days of classes per year; with 81% of girls interviewed indicating that they missed classes for the entire period of menstruation. Girls living in rural areas of Zambia have no access to affordable modern commercially-produced disposable sanitary pads and are taught by older women what to use instead such as torn cloths, cow dung, dirty rags or mattress pieces, newspaper or even sand and leaves (rather like a sarong) is traditionally used but this is bulky and doesn’t stay in place so girls will stay at home, particularly from school during their menses. Doing this puts them at a huge risk of infection. This means that they miss lessons during schooling. Educating a girl means that they will a higher income, healthier baby, and be more involved in community activities and often, it helps break the cycle of extreme poverty.
Has Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC), we feel government should support in giving girls free or highly subsidized menstrual management products and reusable products made available to girls and adequate WASH and disposal facilities will go a long way in reducing the percentage of girls that miss schools because of their periods. The rural school girl child is subject to vulnerability and increasing her access to education is an important policy priority in many developing countries, including Zambia.
Zambian policy makers are failing to indicate poor Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) lack of sanitary products as one of the barriers to educating a girl, The Ministry of General Education conducts a dropout analysis every year in order to identify and address factors that lead to school dropout. A trend that has continued over time shows that due to early marriages more female learners drop out in comparison to their male counterpart. For example in 2014, a total of 5,046 female dropped out compared to 975 male (EMIS, 2014).
The World Bank 2005 also indicates that girls miss a total of 48 days in an academic year and yet female academic empowerment is thought to be important for a variety of development outcomes and World Bank’s research further indicates that the girl child lags behind the boy child in education due to menstruation problem by missing 4 days of school every 4 weeks meaning she will miss 10 to 20% of her school days due to her menstrual periods.
Poor Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) in rural Zambia has been an insufficiently acknowledged problem due to lack of courage and the will to address and deal with it in our rural schools and that most of the rural school sanitation programs do not address Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) services.
1 in 10 girls on African continent misses school during her period, according the United Nations education agency. In Zambia, one of the biggest obstacles for school menstruating girls is a lack of sanitary napkins, often too expensive for families to afford.
Research conducted by the Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC, 2019) reveals the situation for girls who start menstruation in rural schools of Western province in Zambia is sad and needs urgent action. Menstruating school girls lack access to menstrual sanitary materials and facilities such as water supplies, toilets and changing rooms to manage their menses hygienically and with dignity. These girls end up using sit on sand, cow dung, papers, rags, mattress stuffing during menses, which is unhygienic and has negative impacts on their health. We need to ensure good menstrual hygiene for menstruating school girls in rural schools by creating a supportive environment and dignity for them to manage their menses hygienically, safely and in privacy. Educating a girl means that they will a higher income, healthier baby, and be more involved in community activities and often, it helps break the cycle of extreme poverty
Why Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) matters to achieve the SDGs. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a commitment to finish what was started – to end poverty in all forms and dimensions by 2030.
This involves targeting those living in vulnerable situations, increasing access to basic resources and services, and supporting communities affected by conﬂict and climate-related disasters. At Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC), we work across the SDGs to contribute to achieve some of the goals. Among other products we focus on is an antimicrobial reusable sanitary pad part of the Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) matters to achieve the SDGs.
Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages.
Fact: If girls and women lack access to menstrual hygiene products, they are often forced to use other unhygienic materials, that might lead to an increased incidence offer productive track infections (RTIs)
Solution: Include menstrual health as a critical component of reproductive health.
Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all.
Fact: Girls in developing countries miss up to 5 days of education monthly while they menstruate.
Solution: Include menstrual health and education on the school agenda.
Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower girls and women.
Fact: Taboos and myths related to menstruation often portray girls and women as inferior to boys and men.
Solution: Ensure that girls and women can manage their menstruation with dignity.
Breaking down taboos and helping to build positive norms.
Goal 6: Ensure availability and sustainability of water and sanitation by all.
Fact: 2.4 billion people lack access to improved sanitation facilities. Girls and women are particularly affected by this lack of access to privacy and hygiene.
Solution: Girls and women need adequate water and sanitation facilities including safe and culturally accepted disposal systems and/or reusable hygiene products.
Goal 8: Promote sustained inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full productive employment and decent work for all.
Fact: Female workers do not attend work as the workplaces lack adequate toilet facilities.
Solution: Ensuring that employers provide adequate sanitation facilities at workplaces.
Stigma around menstruation hurts human rights, especially human dignity but also the right to non-discrimination, equality, bodily integrity, health, privacy and the right to freedom from inhumane and degrading treatment from abuse and violence.
Zambia Vision 2040 also emphasizes that less focus on gender inequalities has also often promoted discrimination against the female sex. It is further noted that retention in primary school on the whole is low and exhibits gender disparities with 53% of boys
Passing a motion on Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) in Parliament will help rural school girls completing primary school. The Vision 2040 also indicates a commitment to promote increased enrolment and retention of girls and boys at all levels of education including technical and vocational training.
Research conducted by the Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC, 2019) reveals that lack of sanitary pads coupled with other factors like the absence of water and separate toilet facilities for the girls in many rural schools is responsible for the high school girl child dropout rates.
The gender unfriendly school culture, infrastructure and the lack of adequate menstrual hygiene management practices such as providing privacy; soap, water, space for washing hands, private parts and clothes; places for changing and disposing of materials used for managing menstruation, undermine the need for and presence of privacy resulting in fundamental infringement of human rights of girls and dignity.
Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC, 2019) researchers discovered that taboos, cultural norms and silence associated with menstruation in many rural schools greatly contributed to lack of recognition and appreciation for provision of improved sanitary facilities in schools.
Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC) is asking Zambia Parliament through the President Mr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu to move a motion in Parliament, the policy will make the Zambian Government through the Ministry of General Education to distribute free sanitary pads, improve and provide free Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) services by ending child marriages, reduce poverty and good school performance among girls in rural areas who miss school because they can’t afford to buy sanitary pads.
1. Develop a comprehensive policy on Menstrual Hygiene Management MHM) be formulated to enhance implementation of programs related to the school going girl-child.
2. Zambia government to sets aside funds within the Ministry of Education to support sustainable Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) programs.
3. The Ministry of Education should incorporate Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) in school education curriculum.
4. Zambia government should place emphasis on the provision of washrooms, resting rooms, pain killers, pads, knickers and changing rooms for the menstruating school girls in schools.
5. Zambia government should incorporate menstrual hygiene management into the Parents and Teachers’ Association (PTA) agenda.
6. Zambia government should place emphasis on menstrual counseling and support for the girl child in rural schools through the role of the senior female teachers.
7. Rural schools should embark on providing information on menstrual hygiene within the comprehensive sex education framework for both boys and girls.
8. Teacher Training Colleges should incorporate Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) in addition to sex education in their training to equip the teachers with skills to support the girl child.
Issued by Patrick Maboshe
Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC)
Cell # +260979997382, +260975077808 and +260954655071
MMC website: – https://maboshememorialcentremmc.yolasite.com
MMC facebook page: – http://www.facebook.com/maboshememorialc
MMC twitter: – https://twitter.com/mmc_office
MMC Blog: https://maboshememorialmmc.blogspot.com/