Experienced facilitators from Girl Up Initiative Uganda are now available for external reusable sanitary pads trainings! In the past weeks, our young women facilitators from the Adolescent Girls Program have been hired to teach women and girls around Uganda how to make their own reusable sanitary pads. This hands-on training is combined with education in menstruation, puberty, and other sexual and reproductive health (SRH) issues. As we have previously mentioned menstruation matters, since good menstrual management and hygiene is a huge concern for adolescent girls in Uganda, and many other developing countries. Since it is a taboo subject, many girls have never received correct information and lack access to hygienic sanitary products. We have learnt that many of our girls miss school during their periods due to insufficient resources, embarrassment, and period pains. Many of our girls also told us that they use old clothing or toilet paper as sanitary pads because they lack the funds to purchase proper pads.
In 2015, as part of the Adolescent Girls Program, Girl Up Initiative Uganda began a project to equip our girls with the skills to make their own reusable sanitary pads. The pilot project was extremely popular amongst the girls, proving that there is a huge demand for learning these skills as well as for gaining correct information on menstruation, puberty, and SRH. More recently, we have been approached by other organizations that requested our training services so that more women and girls around Uganda can take charge of their menstrual periods- transforming menstruation from a shameful period to an empowering moment!
GUIU’s training approach includes both a practical element in teaching skills in making reusable sanitary pads, and an educational element where the trainers engage in discussions around menstruation, puberty, and sexual and reproductive health (SRH) issues.
GUIU conducted the first training of this kind in Kasese District, in Western Uganda, for 142 women and girls from August 29th- 30th. The two-day training was facilitated and funded by the Village Wisdom Team, based out of North Carolina. On the first day, the GUIU team trained 60 women and girls from different sub-counties, and on the second day, they trained 55 adolescent girls and 27 teachers from local schools. The training for each of the two days was engulfed in initial discussions about menstruation, puberty, and SRH. The facilitators tactfully answered their questions while emphasizing that every woman and girl’s body is different so that their experiences will differ from person to person.
Participants shared some of their beliefs (myths) around menstruation that included:
Doing hectic work like fetching water, digging brings about early menstruation
When a boy touches your breasts you begin menstruating immediately
When one has sex during menstruation, she will not get pregnant
Beating a girl’s back brings about early menstruation
They also discussed strategies on how to share the knowledge and skills they acquired in the training with other girls and women. They offered the following ideas:
Organizing workshops to train other women in the community and adolescent girls in the schools on how to make reusable pads
Outreaches through church announcements to reach both in-school and out-of-school girls
By going from house to house to teach women and girls to make pads
To make village/community radios announcements to the entire community
All participants walked away from the training with knowledge on how to make two types of reusable sanitary pads. The feedback showed that they enjoyed the session and were surprised to learn of the affordability and durability of the pads.
“I have learnt to make reusable sanitary pads, which knowledge I appreciate so much so that at least I can minimize the cost of buying pads every month. Instead, I can just buy the materials then make them for my girls as they go to school”
- One of the mothers
In early September, GUIU was contacted by Ssuubi ly’abaana Child Development Centre in Masaka, in Southwest Uganda, to conduct a training for a group of girls at their development centre. The organization learned about GUIU after contacting AFRIpads, which referred them to us since they do not conduct these types of trainings. On September 16th, our team of facilitators led a full-day training for 69 secondary school girls and women.
The training included identifying and discussing menstruation myths and other menstruation issues that affect the participants. Afterwards, the girls and women were trained in how to make two types of reusable sanitary pads and given information on proper hygiene and maintenance of the pads.
(Photo: Facilitator, Marion, pictured left showing participants how to cut materials for the pads)
The responses from the participants were very positive. As Judith, one of the secondary school students, said:
“The pocket pad is more affordable and friendly I can be able to make these ones always, thank you Girl up Initiative for sharing this knowledge with us, I will be able to teach my fellow girls when I go back to school”
Offering our sanitary pad training is an exciting new venture for Girl Up Initiative Uganda. It not only broadens our reach and impact related to menstrual health and hygiene to districts outside of Kampala, it also allows us to experiment with new income-generating activities for organizational sustainability since a percentage of the cost of each training supports the programs of GUIU. The reusable sanitary pads training project initially started as a fun and creative way to break the taboos around menstruation and puberty while teaching girls useful hands-on skills. Today, we are so pleased to see that it has gained popularity in different communities around Uganda and we look forward to more opportunities.
Please contact Monica at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in hiring our experienced facilitators to lead a training in your community!