Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ministry of Education and Sports is planning to set up a factory to manufacture sanitary pads that will be distributed at no cost to all girls in school across the country.
This will be in implementation of a presidential pledge to provide sanitary pads to all girls as a way of keeping them in school. The pledge which was supposed to be effected in the 2017/2018 financial year, remains just on paper.
Education Minister Janet Museveni notes that there are several interventions considered to effect the provision of sanitary pads to girls in several districts across the country. However, all the models seem to be ineffective.
“We wanted to have a way of giving sanitary towels that could be affordable, safe and healthy. We have been giving to some schools to some , but not to all but we knew that is not sustainable. The idea is to have a small industry that will provide all schools and it maintains itself,” she said.
She made the remarks during a televised broadcast on Saturday afternoon, where she was reviewing the status of implementing the NRM manifesto in line with the education sector. She also focused on developments and improvements achieved in the primary, secondary and institution levels of education. (see full presentation below)
A 2012 study done by International Rescue Centre notes that one in ten menstruating girls skips school four days every month, which is about 24 days the entire year. Other studies have also tagged the challenge as a major contributing factor towards the school out drop for many girls.
Although Janet Museveni has for long insisted that provision of school lunch and pads should the responsibility of the parents and not the government, she recently told parliament that if the government is to do it, then it must be done sustainably through a well-funded national project.
But Hope Nankunda, the Executive Director of Health Promotions and Rights Watch Uganda, notes that despite the cries from the public, the government has failed to understand that sanitary pads are essential to the girl child which drives many to live under fear, shame, and embarrassment.
Nankunda also adds that the government is using a wrong approach to the problem. she highlights that all that is needed is to put in place menstrual management frames embedded in the curriculum such as developing age-appropriate information packages on menstrual hygiene and training girls in making re-usable pads using locally available materials.
She further adds that another important aspect could be building the capacity of teachers especially senior female and male teachers to support school girls to manage physical and psycho-social changes associated with menstruation that placing al the resources to building a factory.