Posted on Jul 1, 2016
Comments Off on BBC report highlights how girls in Malawi miss out on education because of their periods
It is an issue that every school girl across the world faces as they grow into young women. However, in many parts of Africa, having a period each month results in millions of girls missing large parts of their education every year, resulting in some failing to finish school.
The issue recently featured in a report on BBC Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent. Freelance journalist Charlotte Ashton spoke to teenage girls in Malawi about the problems they face each month just because they are on their periods. The report highlights concerns raised by the African Child Trust (ACT) through its Ulemu (Dignity) Project, which is campaigning and raising money to provide better education in Malawi about the menstrual cycle.
In Malawi, which is one of Africa’s poorest countries, about 20 percent of school-aged children are prevented from continuing their education beyond primary school due to cultural taboos around periods and access to sanitary pads. As highlighted in the BBC report, a pack of sanitary pads costs the equivalent of 50 pence (UK) each in Malawi, which is almost a whole day’s pay at minimum wage. With girls needing two packs for every period, it means spending two days wages every month on sanitary pads. Also, the issue of periods is considered taboo and stops girls from asking questions and learning how to manage the changes in their bodies properly. Confused and left feeling ashamed and embarrassed, many girls instead stay away from school during their periods. This leads to poor performance and prevents girls from completing their education. Many are instead pushed into early pregnancy and marriage.
However, ACT is working hard in Malawi through the Ulemu Project to help try and empower girls and ensure they can continue their education and achieve their full potential in life. Ulemu means “dignity” in Chichewa, the Malawi language.
We aim to educate more than 2,000 girls about the menstrual cycle and also help provide them with re-useable sanitary pads. But we desperately need help.
“The Ulemu Project is vital in helping to ensure girls can continue their education through their teenage years. The dropout rate of girls even at primary school is too high and the numbers going on to secondary school is less than 20 percent in districts where we work”.
“We are also helping to empower unemployed women and widows through training and showing them how to make reusable pads so they can generate income and improve their quality of life. But we cannot do this without the help of members of the public”. (ACT Director Dr Kunle Onabolu)
For more information on the Ulemu Project and how you can help, please click here.
Listen to the BBC Radio 4 Report – From Our Own Correspondent here