KEEPING YOUNG GIRLS IN SCHOOL AT TUKUNDANE.

In Uganda, drop-out rates are high for rural girls. Up to 80% of girls entering primary school will never complete their primary education. Uganda has the highest teen pregnancy rate in sub-Saharan Africa with over 30% of Ugandan girls having their first baby by the time they are 18. HIV infection rates are 9 times higher in girls than boys the same age and Uganda has one of the highest maternal death rates in the world, 25% of which are from unsafe abortions.

At tukundane,We aiming at keeping girls in school which in turn will affect the entire community through training students to act as peer leaders about reproductive health, distribution of sanitary pads to girls in school and construction of girls only private latrines at school.

Girls in schools with peer-educators are better informed about reproductive health and more comfortable with discussing issues around menstruation, puberty and relationships with boys. Its our goal at tukundane to make every girl child the importance of hygiene and we do this by inviting different peer educators and counsellors to engage with our young women on different topics like menstrual talks, sex education, abstinence and contraceptives.  We distribute sanitary pads for our young women which has contributed a lot to their self-esteem in staying in school.

Effects of Lack of Education on Menstruation

Many girls will skip school to avoid the potential embarrassment and shame associated with having one’s period show. Due to its monthly recurrence, many young women are unable to catch up on the material they have missed and will eventually drop out of school altogether.

In Uganda, 70 percent of girls leave school between the ages of 13 and 18. Low enrolment for both genders is common due to a variety of circumstances in many African countries.

However, with menstruation typically beginning around 13 years old and girls’ limited access to sexual health education and supplies, dropout rates increase for young women at a rate 10 percent higher than boys of the same age. Access to reproductive health education and cost effective menstruation supplies such as reusable sanitary pads can be powerful tools in keeping young women in school.

Benefits of Reusable Sanitary Pads

Disposable menstruation supplies are often too expensive for families to afford, forcing many young women to use unsanitary alternatives such as old clothes or to go without sanitary pads altogether. Reusable sanitary pads are a cheap, effective and empowering tool for young African women at tukundane we encouraging our young women to fall more in love with reusable pads since they are less expensive and can also be locally made. This is also one of our project that we starting soon to teach our young women how to make their own reusable pads which will help them stay in school but also create sort of income for them during holidays.

One of aims to encourage the government to look at the possibility of making sanitary towels available in schools especially for the poorer regions and schools. Also to look at the cost of sanitary towels and the strain that this puts on young women and their families that cannot afford them. Sanitary towels are not a luxury for women but a necessity and that should be reflective in the pricing.