South Sudan: keeping girls in school thanks to home-made sanitary pads
For many girls and women in South Sudan, sanitary pads are expensive and inaccessible. With menstruation being considered a taboo topic, they suffer shame, embarrassment and exclusion from school, family life and social activities.
SNV’s Girls in Control project aims to break the silence around menstruation and ensure that menstrual health is high on the agenda of education policy makers and resource allocators, creating a world in which every woman and girl can manage her menstruation in a hygienic way – in privacy, safety and with dignity.
The project was recently featured in The Niles newspaper. The article highlights the initiative taking place in a remote village of Mogas in Magwi, where pupils are learning how to make reusable menstrual pads (RUMPs) in order to enable girls to stay in school during their periods. The innovative products were designed by the Hope for Children and Women Foundation, with support from SNV and UNICEF. The Hope for Children and Women Foundation also supplies the materials needed for the production of the pads.
Beatrice Achola, 18, was very inspired by the project and after learning how to make the RUMPs herself, she shared the knowledge with her mother and they both starting teaching other village women how to make the pads. As a result, the Ribe Ya Teko, or “Coming together is strength” was founded, a group which meets every afternoon to make pads.
“Before we learnt how to make RUMPs, and there was no money to purchase pads, I would not go to school during my periods because I would end up having boys shouting at me,” Achola says. “I prefer the RUMPs because I can use them many times and be able to be in school always.”
The Ribe Ya Teko women’s lives have improved considerably as well: “We are now completely self-reliant – from the RUMPs sales we are able to pay our children’s school fees and save some money to invest in our agricultural projects as well,” says Amal Jackeline, the group’s coordinator.
In the meantime, a girl-friendly toilet with running water, a pit latrine with wash rooms and a changing room have been built to make it convenient for the girls to attend school during their periods. Moreover, the Magwi Primary School is planning to purchase pads from the women to supply school girls.