Sunday, October 25, 2009

Rethinking the Menstrual Burden: Ugandan Girls' Menstrual Cycles

If you think menstruation is a burden on the typical American woman, think about the burden it puts on young Ugandan girls.

In an IPS article titled “UGANDA: Lifting Silence on Menstruation to Keep Girls in School,” Joshua Kyalimpa exposes the over-complicated situation surrounding Ugandan girls and their menstrual cycles.

This article explains that there may be a correlation between the Ugandan girls’ menstrual cycles and school dropout rates. Many young girls in Uganda lack the emotional, physical, and financial support to deal with their menstrual cycles.

Sanitary pads prove to be too expensive for many of these girls, and the fact that the beginning of their menstrual cycles is an indication of their readiness for marriage leave the girls little help from members of their families and community. Thus, it is believed that many of these girls must drop out of school after they begin menstruating because they must find money to buy sanitary pads or are being forced to marry.

It is disturbing that menstruation for many of these girls means the end of their adolescence and education. While there are current tax waivers for sanitary pads, the stress this puts on these young girls is not enough.

The Forum of African Women Educationalists (FAWE) is working to ends the silence surrounding these issues. They have already helped lower the prices of sanitary pads and now want the government to pay for sanity pads for females in primary schools.

Until the decision is made to help pay for these Ugandan girls’ needs, it is important to support these girls. After doing some research, I found that you can make a 5 dollar donation to Afri-Pads; this organization sends menstrual kits to Ugandan girls in need.

You can also help by following the stories surrounding these issues on websites like IPS, AllAfrica, and FAWE’s homepage.

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