Legislators Seek Policy on Menstrual Hygiene Management

In short
The need ascended from a motion tabled before parliament by Shadow Minister of Education Akello Judith Franca arguing that the dignity of the girl child is undermined by gender unfriendly school cultures and practices. This includes the lack of adequate menstrual hygiene management gears like soap, sanitary pads, private bathing spaces and places for changing and disposing off used materials

Members of Parliament observe a need for a comprehensive policy on menstrual hygiene management as a way of keeping the girl child in school.

The need ascended from a motion tabled before parliament by Shadow Minister of Education Akello Judith Franca arguing that the dignity of the girl child is undermined by gender unfriendly school cultures and practices.

This includes the lack of adequate menstrual hygiene management gears like soap, sanitary pads, private bathing spaces and places for changing and disposing off used materials.  Akello argues that such conditions coupled with sexual harassment are affecting the participation of the girl child in education.

Based on the concern, Akello requested that Parliament resolves that a comprehensive policy on menstrual hygiene management is formulated to enhance implementation of Education programs for the girl child.

The motion further demanded that government sets aside funds for the Education Ministry to support sustainable menstrual hygiene management programs as well as the incorporation of menstrual hygiene management in various curriculums of the Ministry of Education.

Baba Diri Margaret, the Woman MP for Koboko District demanded that government subsidizes Sanitary Pads so that they become more affordable for the girl child. She also demanded for separate toilets for girls in schools.

Also in support of the motion was Ishaka Municipality MP Odo Tayebwa noted who observed that government has a responsibility to develop a policy requiring a provision of sanitary towels in schools through senior women teachers.

“In our culture it’s a taboo to see the blood of a menstruating woman as well as a taboo for men to sleep with a woman during her menstruation period. When we talk about sanitary towels, it is not something we should take lightly”, Tayebwa noted.

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“There is no way you can fail to give emergence to such matters because it is natural”, Kalungu West MP Joseph Sewungu said.

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Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga directed that the Minister of Education Jessica Alupo gives a formal response on the motion next week before Parliament makes its final decision on the matter.

Source: https://ugandaradionetwork.com/a/story.php?s=68678
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Recommendations from MHM Conference 2014

Outcome of sharing and learning conference on menstrual hygiene management

On policy

  • Establish an inter-ministerial coordination task force on MHM between ministry of Health, education, Gender and water with other non-state actors. – ministry of education Gender Unit organizes the first meeting
  • Development of implementation frame work with attendant Monitoring &Evaluation component (indicators) that speaks to the new National Development Plan and post – 2015 ( sustainable Development Goals) discussions.
  • Promote public private partnership for sustained advocacy, mainstreaming and resources allocation

On finance

  • Empower girls with own income to purchase pads (sanitary materials)
  • Reach out to girls in (MOES) and out of school- (MGLSD)
  • Line ministries to incorporate MHM in relevant policy documents (school health policy)
  • Develop ministerial strategic plans/ budgets for MHM
  • Multiple solutions and approaches to MHM
  • Improvise measures to ensure that income generated for MHM is spent effectively
  • More research on the private public partnerships
  • Utilize the schools health clubs for awareness and advocacy
  • Placing a price tag on menstrual hygiene management— social costs, economic gain
  • Costing the entire supply chain for sanitary pads. Going beyond the pads/products to focus on entire package of services
  • Providing different choices for urban and rural
  • Life skills training to be incorporated in the education sector teaching circular
  • Investing in the training manuals for MHM
  • Develop advocacy plans for the various development partners
  • Sustainable solutions for MHM
  • The current prices for sanitary pads are still high- there is need to strengthen PPP
  • Skills and Technology transfer of small scale industries for income generation thus adopt business models to tackling MHM challenges

On menstrual hygiene in schools

  • Providing emergency sanitary pads at school level
  • Provide affordable sanitary materials (pads)
  • Government and CSOs to target out of school girl child and woman
  • Parents take on the awareness creation x 2
  • Enhancing participatory approaches among the children( life skils)
  • Involvement of all gender in managing MH
  • Standardize WASH facilities (Wash rooms and incinerators)
  • Including MHM basics in the school teaching programs ( teaching training schools )
  • Start education on MHM in Lower primary level
  • Essential right and responsibility for parents to buy sanitary materials for their children
  • Skills training e.g income generating activities
  • Strengthen the position of the senior woman and man teachers (support structures)
  • Start breaking the silence at family and school level
  • Ministry of health to take lead in advocacy using the lowest local government structures (coordination )
  • Seminars in schools for advocacy
  • Creating a supply chain for MH in urban/rural areas
  • React out to girls with special needs
  • Government policies to prioritize MH, provide WASH rooms
  • Learning from successful approaches e.g waste disposal
  • Behavior change communication using social norms to trigger attitude and sustainable behavior change
  • Create safe environments for dialogues
  • Learning and knowledge management for learning / sharing and adoption of  working approaches   (evidence base advocacy)

 On technology

  • We need to regulate the technologies being brought in the country.
  • There is need to avail water on designed wash facilities (water should constantly be available)
  • The menstrual hygiene products need to be available on the local market
  • PWDs should also be catered for while designing menstrual hygiene facilities
  • Skills should be extended to young girls in schools to make pads
  • Districts and local governments should adopt RWH on toilets facilities being constructed
  • Products should go through the necessary health standards
  • Designs should carter for disposal of the pads
  • Engage DLGs to budget for MHM while planning

 

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Who regulates menstrual hygiene kits ?

During one of the sessions at the menstrual hygiene conference, participants suggested a need for regulations on materials being used in menstrual hygiene management especially in schools. its was noted that even though most of the disposable pads have guidelines they follow before they are put on market, there was no existing framework for the reusable pads which a number of rural schools are using. According to a research presented by Linda Lillian of NETWAS Uganda, it was mentioned that there is a health threat in the tampons, diapers and pads available on the market.The threat is embedded in the chemicals used in the manufacture of the hygiene products. One such chemical is dioxin which the World Health Organization lists as one of the “dirty dozen – a group of dangerous chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants.” A presentation by Jacinta of Water Aid also mentioned that even though there were existing policies to support the girl child, majority were silent on menstrual hygiene management.

It was however suggested that a framework needed to be drafted to carter for all issues associated with regulation of menstrual hygiene kits and the Uganda National Bureau of Standards needed to be brought on board.

On the issues of policy, participants suggested;

  1. Establish an inter-ministerial coordination task force on MHM between ministry of Health, education, Gender and water with other non-state actors. – ministry of education Gender Unit organizes the first meeting
  2.  Development of implementation frame work with attendant Monitoring &Evaluation component (indicators) that speaks to the new National Development Plan and post – 2015 ( sustainable Development Goals) discussions.
  3. Promote public private partnership for sustained advocacy, mainstreaming and resources allocation

 

 

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East Africa Breaks the Silence on Menstruation to Keep Girls in School

KAMPALA, Aug 15 2014 (IPS) - When Peninah Mamayi got her period last January, she was scared, confused and embarrassed. But like thousands of other girls in the developing world who experience menarche having no idea what menstruation is, Mamayi, who lives with her sister-in-law in a village in Tororo, eastern Uganda, kept quiet.

“When I went to the toilet I had blood on my knickers,” she told IPS. “I was wondering what was coming out and I was so scared I ran inside the house and stayed there crying.

“I just used rags. I feared telling anybody.”

For girls, “pads are as good as schoolbooks” — Dennis Ntale, 18, a student at co-ed Mengo Senior School in Kampala, Uganda

Not having access to or being able to afford disposable sanitary pads or tampons like millions of their Western counterparts, desperate Ugandan girls will resort to using the local ebikokooma leaves, paper, old clothes and other materials as substitutes or even, as a health minister told a menstrual hygiene management conference this week, sitting in the sand until that time of the month is over.

“We always try to give them something to use at school, just at school,” Lydia Nabazzine, a teacher at Mulago Private Primary School in Kampala, where about 300 out of 500 students are female, told IPS.

“When they go home we don’t know how they go about it, because we cannot afford funding up to home level.”

But the 2012 Study on menstrual management in Uganda, conducted by the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) and IRC International Wash and Sanitation Centre in seven Ugandan districts, found that over 50 percent of senior female teachers confirmed there was no provision for menstrual pads for schoolgirls.

When some girls have their period, they may miss up to 20 percent of their total school year due to the humiliation of not having protection, according to separate research from the World Bank. This profoundly affects their academic potential.

“Those days when I was menstruating I could be absent for up to five days a month until menstruation had stopped,” recalled Mayami.

It’s a continent-wide problem. The United Nations Children’s Fund says one in 10 African girls skipped school during menstruation. Some drop out entirely because they lack access to effective sanitary products.

A number of recent initiatives have, however, tried to address this.

On May 28 this year, the world marked the first Menstrual Hygiene Day to help “break the silence and build awareness about the fundamental role that good menstrual hygiene management (MHM) plays in enabling women and girls to reach their full potential.”

On Aug. 14 – 15, East Africa’s first national menstrual hygiene management conference, which has the theme “breaking the silence on menstruation, keep girls in school,” has been taking place in Uganda’s capital Kampala.

At least 100 schoolteachers, schoolgirls – and boys – NGOs, including Network for Water and Sanitation (NETWAS) Uganda, civil society members and others are taking part in the two-day event. They’re calling on the government to put in place a menstrual hygiene management school policy. They also want the government to provide free sanitary pads to girls in schools, like neighbouring Kenya has done.

Despite keeping silent about the horrors of menstruation for months, Mamayi shared with the conference attendees the solution she found to that time of the month.

The student, now 13, had been walking home from school when some older pupils told her, “madam [the teacher] said menstruation is a normal thing for every girl.”

“So I asked them about it,” she told IPS.

“Now I’m using AFRIPads.”

Invented by the eponymous Uganda-based social business, AFRIPads are washable cloth sanitary towels designed to provide effective and hygienic menstrual protection for up to a year.

One Ugandan, Dr. Moses Kizza Musaazi, a senior lecturer in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Kampala’s Makerere University, has also invented the environmentally-friendly MakaPads, from papyrus reeds and waste paper. MakaPads are said to be the only trademarked biodegradable sanitary pads made in Africa.

Mamayi said the re-useable pads work out to be 5,500 Ugandan shillings (2.11 dollars) a year, compared to the 30,000 shillings (11.49 dollars) that disposable pads would have set her back.

“Now when I go somewhere [when I have my period] I sit and am comfortable,” said Mamayi. “I’m not bothered by anything. I don’t worry whether I’ve got anything on my skirt. I don’t miss school.”

She added: “I’m going to tell my friends that menstruation is a normal thing in girls.

“I want my friend also to be free, to tell their parents to buy for them pads. Let them not fear.”

Continue

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Breaking the silence on menstruation

By Marielle Snel-Programme officer IRC

On the first day of the Menstrual Hygiene Management Conference in Uganda, the central message was clear: an educated girl is an empowered one.

“We should do everything to support girls to stay in school. An educated girl is an empowered one”. These were the words from Honorable Sarah Opendi, Ministry of State for Primary Health Care, Government of Uganda as she was opening the Menstrual Hygiene Management conference today.

The objectives of the conference are to raise awareness on the impact of poor menstrual management; advocate for policy review; develop strategies; operationalizing existing policy and demonstrate sustainable good practices on menstrual management.

There is currently a Ugandan school health policy in a draft format that does not include a menstrual hygiene management (MHM) aspect. However, after this conference the aspect of MHM shall be included in this revised version of the policy as cited by Dr. Jane Egau, Ministry of Sports and Education, assistant commissioner in education.

In her message to the participants, the Minister of Education, Major Jessica Alupo, said “What a beautiful theme (to focus on in these times). Clearly this MHM conference is bringing to light the importance of breaking the silence around menstruation.”

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Conference press release urges government to draft policy addressing menstrual hygiene in schools

A consortium of civil society organizations are calling upon government to put in place a school health policy that addresses menstrual hygiene management in schools.

According to the recent research by World Bank and civil society organizations, at least 60 percent of the school girls in Uganda miss school every month due to challenges ingrained in their menstrual cycle.

“The current policy on gender in the education sector is not strong enough to address the needs of girls when they are in school,” the advisor water, sanitation and hygiene SNV, a Netherlands based organization, Chemisto Satya, disclosed on Tuesday

“What we are looking for is a policy that it is clearly stating how government can help girls remain in school or being absent because of poor menstrual management,” she noted.

The activists noted that most girls often lack access to proper facilities such as sanitary pads, water and soap to support them move through the menstrual cycle with minimal disruption to their studies.

The study carried out by SNV in 2012 in seven districts, showed that about half of the girl pupils in the study report missed 3 days of school days per month. This translates into a loss of 8 to 24 school days per year.

The study was carried out in Arua, Adjuman, Bundibugyo , Kasese, Kyenjojo, Lira and Soroti.

The report also showed that; over 50 percent of the senior women teachers confirmed that there is no provision for menstrual pads to school girls.

Speaking ahead of the East Africa menstrual Hygiene conference due to take place on the 14 and 15 of this month at Hotel Africana, the Girls’ Education movement Uganda chairperson, Janat Namatovu, called upon government to provide free sanitary pads to girls in school just like our neighboring country Kenya has done.

The head of project development Build Africa, Sarah Amulo, said “The Universal primary Education (UPE) policy provides for allowable expenses, we are now asking the government, can emergency sanitary pads become allowable expenses.”

The theme for the conference is “Break the silence on menstrual hygiene management, keep the girl in school,”

Source: http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/658454-civil-society-wants-health-policy-to-address-menstrual-hygiene-in-schools.html

 

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Change of date for MHM conference 2014

Due to a schedule conflict with an important youth day celebration scheduled for 12th June 2014 , the MHM conference has been pushed to the dates of 14th-15th August 2014 ensure full options for all attendees for the event. See details

Venue: Hotel Africana, Kampala Uganda            Date: 14th-15th August 2014

 

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