School is often the most important opportunity available to young people in developing communities, where they can begin to learn the skills that can help them to escape the cycle of poverty.
Unfortunately, there isn’t often equal access to education for both boys and girls, and girls are also less likely to complete their school education – something that impacts levels of poverty because there is a ‘multiplier effect’ when educating girls and women. More educated women tend to be healthier, participate more in the labour market, earn more income, have fewer children, and provide better health care and education to their own children, all of which eventually improves the well-being of all individuals and helps to lift households out of poverty.
So why do girls tend to drop out of school?
Various research studies have identified menstruation as one of the key barriers to girls’ school attendance and attainment.There is often a stigma attached to the natural process of menstruation, and sanitary supplies are expensive and beyond the means of most households already struggling with poverty. As a result, many girls have to manage their period with rags and newspaper, sometimes even resorting to things like mud, corn husks and tree bark – anything they can find. These methods are ineffective, uncomfortable and carry a strong potential for infection and disease.
Many girls therefore tend to avoid school on the days that they are having their period, leaving them isolated and missing out on the opportunity of up to two months of education in every year. And menstruation, when combined with a lack of clean and safe toilets at school, leads to much higher school dropout rates amongst girls once they reach puberty.
So helping girls to gain access to quality sustainable feminine hygiene, vital health knowledge, and income-generating opportunities can therefore begin to remove some of these barriers to a better education…
To enable girls to attend school throughout the month we want to make affordable sanitary solutions more widely available. Through a partnership with the charity Days for Girls – who will provide the design, raw materials and training – Signpost and VAD are therefore helping to create a micro enterprise, employing ten women who will make and sell reusable sanitary kits and liquid soaps. Alongside their distribution to schools, VAD will also provide menstrual and hygiene education to pupils, help to reduce stigmas, and teach girls how to use, wash and maintain the kits provided. The micro enterprise will intially make 1000 sanitary kits with liquid soaps, either to be distributed to schools or to be sold to the community. Profits generated will be reinvested back into the enterprise for its continued growth, as well as providing an income for ten female employees.
The Days For Girls Kit
Each of these washable feminine hygiene kits gives back to its owner up to 6 months of living in just three years of use – that’s 180 days of education, health, safety and dignity.
The kit comes in an attractive drawstring bag and contains: soap, a washcloth, absorbent tri-fold pads, moisture barrier shields, knickers, Ziploc freezer bags for soiled items and an instruction kit. It is designed as a result of the feedback from women all over the world, making it a solution that works.
Giving just £5 per month will help to provide a reusable sanitary kit for a Ugandan school girl- that’s changing the lives of twelve girls each year! If you are interested in finding out more about the Pink Project then please contact our offices for more details or come to our women’s event below.