According to 2014 census, the population of women in Uganda is 51% of whom 24.5% of are adolescents, between 10-19 years and 84% of whom are rural and assumed to be unable to (sufficiently) access and/or afford sanitary pads.
The government of Uganda provides “free” primary education for all. However, statistics show that fewer than 38% of girls entering Primary one in 2016 will complete their primary education. Many obstacles stand in the way of successful education for rural African girls but chief among them are issues relating to puberty, teen pregnancy, and early marriage.
One in four girls aged between 15 and 19 years in Uganda is either pregnant or already a mother, which highlights safe motherhood and school dropout challenges that the country faces. This was contained in a statement issued by the Minister of state for Primary Healthcare Dr. Joyce Moriku Kaducu on the safe motherhood commemoration in Mukono in October 2017.
‘Adolescents’ unwanted pregnancies in Uganda are attributed to limited access to sanitary pads during menstruation for school girls, limited access to information and services on how to prevent pregnancies she said. She further attributed that 60% of new HIV infections which occur among adolescents are due to poverty which drives them in engaging in risky sexual behaviour, violence, rape and defilement.
Guided by its strategic objective of supporting education, TAOU in partnership with Trust for Africas Orphans (TAO) are implementing a project on the production and distribution of affordable reusable sanitary pads for adolescent girls aged between 10-19 years in Kole and Oyam districts.
The purpose of this project is to increase the number of adolescent girls enrolling and completing upper primary education. The project also intends to change the attitudes and behaviour of girls, parents, communities and officials in relation to adolescent girls’ right to education, gender and sexual reproductive health.
The project aims to achieve the following outcomes:
- Girls’ access affordable re-usable sanitary pads and are given information to use the pad safely.
- Girls are able to manage their menstruation with dignity.
- Improved retention of girls and perform better.
- Improved knowledge of menstruation and reproductive health in girls receiving education.
- Improved gender equality.
A Production centre fully equipped with machines has been set up. To date, the project has been able to produce over 5,000 packs of reusable pads have been produced to date.