1 in 10 girls in Africa miss school because of their periods.
There is a strong relationship between education, health and wellbeing, all of which is influenced by sanitary dignity. Girls who are absent from school due to period poverty are unfairly deprived of getting a complete quality education.
Research by UNESCO shows that girls are less likely to graduate from secondary school than boys. In fact, millions of girls of school-going age are absent or drop-out of school because they suffer from period poverty.
Period poverty refers to a lack of affordability or access to sanitary products, education on menstrual hygiene, sanitary hygiene (access to clean water and toilets) and waste management.
Period poverty can lead girls to miss anywhere between 10-20% of school days. UNICEF has estimated that roughly 1 in 10 girls in Africa miss school because of their periods each year.
Stigmas, Taboos and Misconceptions
The issue of menstruation can pose serious human rights concerns for schoolgirls.
Stigma and ridicule can contribute to the exclusion of girls from school and economic opportunities. Fear of being teased by classmates often causes absenteeism, while menstruation taboos can keep girls from touching water, cooking, and from being involved in community activities.
Period shame and misinformation undermines the wellbeing of schoolgirls. It makes them vulnerable to gender discrimination, child marriage, exclusion, violence, poverty and untreated health issues — perpetuating the idea that menstruating girls are ‘unclean.’
The Effect of Period Poverty on Education
The lack of access to sanitary products not only negatively affects a schoolgirl’s education, but also her sense of self-worth, health and wellbeing. This is because psychological health is strongly influenced by physical health. It is therefore not surprising that poor physical health due to issues of menstruation, can negatively influence a schoolgirl’s ability to learn and complete her education.
In order to preserve the dignity of schoolgirls during menstruation, it is important to provide them with access to basic sanitary healthcare. This will not only contribute to their general health and wellbeing, but also ensure that they remain and progress in school.
This is one link in a chain that could lead to the completion of basic education for millions of schoolgirls, which could lead to further education and finally to employment. A reduction in unemployment — and therefore a reduction in poverty — will ultimately contribute to the overall advancement of South African society.
The Attacq Foundation is a catalyst and channel for sustainable social investment. The purpose of the foundation is to promote and support programmes aimed at education and training.
Through the Keep Our Girls In School #endperiodpoverty campaign, the Attacq Foundation aims to create awareness and support of the sexual and reproductive health of schoolgirls, including contributing dignity feminine hygiene packs.
All donations will be provided to the Imbumba Foundation, which strives to break the menstrual barrier to education by providing schoolgirls with sanitary products.
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