Defeating the “shame” of menstruation

Students - Botswana

I have heard of a phrase “having a happy period” but I do not know how many teenage girls from our local schools are having such an experience. Maybe I should start by challenging you on what you would like to see happening in 2015 in terms of girls’ education. Myself I plan to curb absenteeism for teenage girls who struggle to attend class due to menstruation. This is rather personal as I understand how difficult it can be to go through menstruation and you are just a young girl with no access to a supply of sanitary wear at times.

For many traditions here in Botswana the issue of menstruation is private. It therefore becomes difficult for a young girl if she happens to soil her uniform at school. She can face stigmatization from her peers especially from the young boys. This can be a very embarrassing situation. I have seen some girls avoiding this shame by just staying at home during their period until it has cleared. This means missing school for almost the whole week and if this is the case every month, how many times does a girl child miss lessons in a year?

This initiative is geared to give to those particular girls their privacy and dignity back and most importantly a chance to attend all lessons without worries of running out of sanitary wear. A local junior secondary school has been identified and through their department of guidance and counseling, the girls in need will be identified and be given monthly supply of sanitary wear. This is a scalable project and if it is a success the initiative will be rolled out to other schools in Francistown and as it grows to cover the whole country.

With the help of the local school I am planning to undertake some research to identify the scale of the problem. This will enable me to look at how best to ensure we can support individuals sustainable as the project gains traction and support. I am keen to make contact with anyone else who is tackling this issue and is willing to share lessons learnt.

Comments and suggestions are welcome and if you are out there wishing to give a hand, send me direct message on my twitter account.

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