For a girl in Australia, the day she gets her period can be confronting. For a girl in rural Uganda, that day can be terrifying. These girls live in a world where reproductive health is taboo – it’s not discussed at school or at home – and they are often completely unaware of what is happening to their bodies and how to care for themselves. On top of that, many girls don’t know about sanitary pads and even if they do, can rarely afford to buy them.
Girls like Christine often avoid going to school when they have their period – this can be up to five days per month – and as a result they struggle to keep up in class. Alarmingly, one in ten African girls will drop out of school altogether and never finish their education. Girls who drop out of school are then more likely to marry early and become mothers too young, trapping them in the cycle of poverty.
Plan was founded in 1937 to protect children from war. Since then it’s grown into one of the world’s largest children’s development organisations, reaching more than 56 million children. Christine is benefiting from a Plan-supported Menstrual Hygiene Management project in Uganda. Plan is working in schools with teachers, students and school health clubs to improve the knowledge and attitudes around reproductive health and how girls can manage their periods.
Plan has also partnered with local business Afripads, who will supply and train community members on the re-usable sanitary pad. This in turn will improve girls’ health and insure that they access quality education and don’t miss out on school.
Check out Plan’s website to find out how you can help support their programs.