Challenge

In Uganda, young women on average miss 8-24 school days per-year during their periods, due to a lack of sanitary products, menstrual education and safe bathroom facilities. This causes them to fall behind in school, underperform on exams, and become disadvantaged in the labor market.

Solution

In partnership with Real Action for Community Empowerment Uganda (RACE) and Days for Girls International, TEL is tackling the many challenges that young women face during menstruation. Race and TEL have teamed up with students to perform a needs assesment and co-design female hygiene and WASH solutions, aiming to create healthier learning environments where young women have access to the support, health products and facilities they need to stay in school and succeed.

The program consists of three components: a social enterprise to manufacture reusable sanitary pads, a faculty-supported curricula to teach menstrual hygiene management to female students and health awareness to male students; and a community-supported effort to provide clean water and sanitation facilities to schools and surrounding community members.

Our Role

After identifying two rural schools with high rates of absenteeism among women, TEL designed qualitative surveys and multi-stakeholder focus group discussions in order for RACE to conduct in-depth needs assessments, while also encouraging students to put forth their own vision for a healthier menstrual hygiene management program. Based on the results of the qualitative surveys and focus group discussions, TEL identified appropriate interventions and menstrual hygiene management practices to incorporate into the program. Among these is an effective, do-it-yourself intervention to create reusable menstrual pads. This component of the program is designed in partnership with Days for Girls International, a nonprofit organization that has supplied menstrual-pad kits and health education to more than one million women and girls in over 100 countries.

Additionally, the schools required a safe and clean bathroom facilities in order for girls to be able to appropriately manage their menstrual helath. In June 2019, construction of new ventilated pit latrines was completed at both schools with active Her Health, Her Future co-ed education clubs. TEL is currently working with RACE to cunduct a mixed methods program evaluation to ensure we are meeting project objectives while simultaneously tailoring the program to student and community needs, with the first year of eculuation being completed in January 2020.

Results and Next Steps

Having already provided more than 100 young women in Jinja with health education and training to create reusable menstrual pads, TEL and its local partners are able to continue this work through 2019 with generous support from the Conservation, Food & Health Foundation, the International Foundation, and the American Tower FOundation.

With the success we have had so far we hope of reaching a younger village with extremely low school retention and literacy rates. RACE has been in contact with this community for some time and has identified a potential partner school. With the ongoing evaluation of our current program acting as a base for furture work, we are eager to fundraise and scale to this new community.

Additionally, with the rural and remote locations of our parnter schools, we have encountered other challenges that go beyond our current work. Energy access in Butembe (one of our partner schools) is of particular concern. Seeing that TEL is uniquely positioned to carry out a needs assesment and technology evaluation for off-grid energy solutions and, having recently performed a similar analysis in Haiti. We are currently seeking opportunities to implement the appropriate off-grid energy solutions for these students.

Location: Jinja District, Uganda

Launch date: November 2016

Beneficiaries: 1050

Real Action for Community Empowerment (RACE)

Days for Girls International

Project Status: active
Support this project

Her Health, Her Future is the focus project for our 2019 Giving Tuesday campaign! Check out this video to see the RACE team describe the project in their own words!