Women and girls in the UK apparently spend up to £18,000 on sanitary products in their lifetime. Foodbanks the UK are now distributing sanitary items to women in need.
The problem is much worse for women and girls in Uganda however. 3 out of every 4 girls in Uganda will drop out of school before the end of primary school because of poverty. For the fortunate few who manage to stay in school almost 30% will miss school every month due to their monthly period and this includes exam days. Without access to sanitary towels girls feel embarrassed to stay in school. Using newspapers and rags means school is extremely uncomfortable and potentially very embarrassing. Not to mention the possibility of infection. Girls would rather stay at home. At home, however their struggle continues. Girls living in the slums of Kampala have limited access to clean water and have nowhere safe and private to wash. This means that girls have no privacy from family members or neighbours. They also do not have private toilets and must pay to use public long drops within the slum. This means that girls are literally choosing between feeding themselves and paying for sanitary items and the use of a toilet during their time of month.
Many suggest that the solution is reusable sanitary towels. However, if you have no clean water, nowhere private to wash and dry these sanitary towels and nowhere private to change them then reusables become impossible. Many older men use this as a bargaining tool to exploit young girls. Young girls often agree to sleep with men in exchange for the promise of money each month to spend on sanitary products and toiletries. This puts girls further at risk of dropping out of school due to unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases or early marriage.
Kids Club Kampala are providing sanitary towels to girls every month. Last year we distributed 7,560 sanitary towels to girls in the slums. We are also providing counselling and guidance to young girls, broaching topics such as menstruation, sexual health and positive relationships.
If you would like to provide dignity for girls in Kampala’s slums you can become a Girls Champion today by giving just £10 per month. A packet of sanitary towels costs just £1.50! (click here and choose Girls Champion from the drop down menu).