Menstruation shouldn't get in the way of a girl's education
In Senegal, UNICEF is exploring new and creative ways to locally produce menstrual supply kits, so girls won't miss out on learning.
KAFFRINE (Senegal), 27 May 2022 - For many girls in Senegal, getting their period means putting their lives on hold. In some places, menstruation is associated with stigma and girls feel embarrassed, often excluding themselves from school and other social activities during their periods.
Lack of access to functional and segregated toilets, limited information on menstrual hygiene management, and limited availability of sanitary materials to manage menstruation make it more difficult for girls to manage their periods.
Many schools don’t have latrines where girls can take care of themselves during their periods, and beyond that, some girls in Kaffrine don’t have access to — nor could they afford — reusable pads. Without feminine hygiene products, many girls skip school while on their periods. That means they miss up to a week of school every month, so they start to fall behind and eventually drop out
When girls start their periods, it’s usually met with either feelings of excitement or dread, depending on how each girl views the coming changes that prepare them for womanhood. But for many girls in this region, it often comes as a ticking clock that marks the interruption of their education
Nogaye and Ndela are among the 47 young women and men who have been trained by the NGO Alphadev based in Malika (central Senegal), implementing a skills development project that equips women and men in underserved communities to stitch reusable cloth pads.
“We had a 10-days training in sewing local sanitary pads. The training included sessions on how to sew sanitary pads and hygienic sanitary materials in line with the approved and labelled standards, using locally sourced fabric, coupled with sessions on building entrepreneurial skills. We have produced a total of 20,900 pads, which will be distributed in schools across the region" explained Ndela.
Supported by UNICEF, this initiative aims not only to provide schoolgirls with sanitary pads, but also to empower the young beneficiaries of the training to sustain their activities.
This initiative helps me learn a new livelihood skill that could become another source of income for me and my family. I earned this month 110,000 XOF (approximately US$175) additional income thanks to this initiative
To help girls stay in school while they are menstruating, UNICEF also distributed dignity kits in schools across the country. Since January 2022, more than 4,700 kits have been distributed in the regions of Tambacounda, Sedhiou, Kolda, Matam and Kedougou, covering the needs of more than 235,000 schoolgirls.
“UNICEF is committed to removing impediments hindering access to education for schoolgirls. Distribution of dignity kits and ensuring adequate access to water and proper latrines at school is an essential part of improving access to education for girls” said Maissa Abdellaoui, UNICEF Girls and Youth Empowerment Specialist in Senegal.
“At UNICEF, we envision an environment where every girl can learn, play, and safeguard her own health without experiencing stress, shame, or unnecessary barriers to information or supplies during menstruation” concluded Mrs. Abdellaoui.
For many adolescent girls living in this region, menstruation is a big problem — a source of stress, shame, embarrassment, confusion and fear. Many girls do not attend school during their monthly cycle
Young girls in this region build their knowledge on menstrual hygiene from their own experience. We need to break the silence and bring change in beliefs and attitudes towards menstruation. We need to support girls across the country to overcome the barriers that prohibit them from managing menstruation with dignity
If girls are given the opportunity to have voice, choice, and power in their lives, they thrive. They need safe and open space where they can be better informed about their bodies and be confident to make their own choices