Over 100 teenage girls living in Internally Displaced Persons’ camps in Kasese District have been trained to make handmade reusable sanitary pads as a way of improving their hygiene but also improving their economic welfare.
The training commenced with sensitizing the girls about children’s rights as enshrined in the 1995 Constitution of Uganda and well as the International Convention on the rights of Children, facilitated by Maria Pauline Namirembe, a co-founder and Director of partnership and networking at Young Angels Network.
The training which kicked off on Saturday 26th September, 2020 at Kanyangera Church of Uganda Nyamwamba Division, Kasese District was organized by a group of teenagers under their charity organization, the Young Angel’s Network (YAN). The attendees were also sensitized about the vulnerabilities of child marriages and how to avoid then, facilitated by Elizabeth Kamasiko, co-founder and Director of Programs at YAN.
Gillian Ahakundire, the Finance and Administration Director, said that the major objective of the training was to promote menstrual hygiene among teenage vulnerable girls who were affected by the floods and other calamites that ravaged the district early this year.
“Most of these girls come from disadvantaged families that have financial constraints. They are unable to acquire the disposal pads because they are expensive. They also lack access to the reusable pads. So this training will help them acquire skills to make their own pads from resources within their reach,” Ahakundire said
According to Daniela Akankunda the YAN team leader, it is hoped that the training will be extended to other young girls within similar communities and schools around the country.
“The availability of sanitary materials will help in the fight against stigma that many young girls both in such IDP camps and schools are facing. We believe that this will boost their confidence in the communities and encourage them to stay in, and complete school” Akankunda said.
Surprise Namatovu one of the girls staying at Kanyengeya IDP camp said that due to lack of basic items many young girls in the camp are exposed to men who promise to provide for them.
“Some girls even become pregnant because someone has promised to buy them pads, soap or jelly. If the girls knew how to make some of these products by themselves, that would change since we are able to make for our personal use but also sell some to get an income to cater for our other needs,” Namatovu said.
Phionah Katusiime another girl at the camp said she and other girls have been relying on well-wishers to get sanitary towels. She regards the attained skills as a ray of hope to many like her who have been often lured into marriage in the name of being provided for.
Victoria Elsie Saali, one of the co-founders of YAN urged government and other partners to regard menstrual issues among vulnerable girls as a national concern give it the attention it deserves.
Kasese District Community Development Officer, Faisal Bagumira acknowledges that many girls are facing challenges. He however says that due to lack of adequate resources, the district is largely dependent on well-wishers to help such girls access basics such as sanitary materials
Though government had committed itself to provide free sanitary pad to girls in schools beginning with the financial year 2017/18, the Ministry of Education says the proposal staled due to lack of money.