Menstrual periods no longer a challenge for girls in Abim, Karamoja sub-region
They are unstoppable
Menstruation is one of the challenges that keeps adolescent girls out of school. In the rural areas, many drop out of school, some miss school, while in some communities, the onset of menstruation signifies marriage.
While menstruation is a natural part of growing up for girls, the first menstrual period is a surprise for many. The Girls at Moruleem Girls Primary School in rural Abim District, Karamoja sub-region are not any different, they too lacked accurate information and knowledge about menstruation. However, through the UNICEF-supported school club in Moruleem Girls Primary School, the girls are being educated about their menstruation for them to learn how to manage their periods.
The menstrual hygiene management activities by the club are among the interventions supported by UNICEF with financial assistance from Irish Aid to address challenges that impact enrollment retention and completion of education for girls. Here is how the clubs have supported the girls overcome menstruation related challenges to stay in school.
“At nine years, while attending a church service, I stood up to sing, and the girl behind told me my skirt was soiled. I was very scared, I thought something had hurt me, so I decided to run home, to clean up. I bathed and changed clothes, but they too got soiled in a few minutes. I bathed again, and this time soiled the chair. Very confused, I decided to talk to my mother, who comforted me before telling me I had started my menstruation period. I had never heard of menstruation”
“I was in class and when I stood up to answer a question, boys started laughing at me. At this point, I didnt know what they were laughing at until my friend told me my dress was wet. I run to the toilet and later home to tell my mother. I asked her what could have happened to me. I thought I had been bitten by an insect. My mother then told me I started my periods and that it was normal.”
“I was playing with my friends and suddenly, when I turned away, my friend screamed at me as she pointed to the stain on my dress. She continued to ask me what had happened, but I had no idea. I run to my mother crying.”
“My period came as a surprise. It was my first time to hear about menstruation when I saw blood on my knicker. I run to my father and asked him if I was going to die.”
Girls celebrate change by the UNICEF clubs
One of the most important changes girls go through is menstruation. Therefore, providing them with the necessary information about menstruation will empower them overcomes challenges presented by this stage int their lives
“These girls were not fully informed about menstruation. They were not free with menstruation. Sometimes when a girl got her period at school, she would go away immediately and abandon all the lessons for days. Sometimes when it begun at home, she would absent herself from school. Akol is a beneficiary of the UNICEF-supported training on menstrual hygiene management. She has a passion for girls’ education and would never want to hear of any girl anywhere drop out of school. To date, Ms. Akol has trained other all pupils and teachers, including male teachers on how to easily manage menstruation and make reusable pads from locally available materials.
Akol demonstrates how to cut cloth while making reusable pads during one of the school club sessions. The girls are busy, many pads are made at the end of the session and distributed to pupils. Today, Akol confidently shares that the Moruleem girls know a lot about menstruation. They are aware that menstruation is natural, healthy, normal and part of growing up. She is proud of her work and encourages the girls to focus on their education and not on the challenges of menstruation as these have been solved.
A club member demonstrates how the reusable pad is placed on the knicker. Equipped with knowledge and skills to make their own pads, the girls are now able to stay healthy and safe during menstruation and also able to stay and complete school.
The club members visit the primary four class to sensitize them on menstruation as part of their activities. They demonstrate how pads are used and made. They want to share the knowledge on menstrual hygiene with all the other pupils.
Girls make reusable pads during one of the regular club sessions.
“Menstruation is not something that can prevent you from being at school or from studying. You must stay in school and complete education. You have to just be at school, feel free as long as you have your pads,”
The girls take some time off to skip a rope after their club activities. They are happy, can play anytime and not even menstruation can stop them from achieving their dreams. They are unstoppable!