The Speaker of Parliament, Right Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, this week launched the distribution of re-usable sanitary pads to schools in northern Uganda. In a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) drive by Parliament dabbed ‘Keep a Girl in School’, Rt. Hon. Kadaga spoke with a heavy heart about the plight of girls who have a challenge managing menstruation while at school.
The Speaker, who launched the distribution of reusable pads in Lamwo District on Monday, 19th June 2017, noted that menstruation was accounting for absenteeism, high dropout rates and poor performance by girls.
“This is deplorable and unacceptable. We must all resolve to eliminate this unsavory reason of our girls dropping out of school,” Kadaga said in a speech read for her by Hon. Molly Lanyero, the Woman Member of Parliament Lamwo District.
Select schools in Pader, Kitgum and Lamwo district received packets of re-usable sanitary pads donated by Members and staff of Parliament through the CSR programme.
The programme was initiated as part of the activities of the Parliament Week held in February 2017, in which Members and staff of Parliament donated money in the campaign. A total of Ushs 40million was collected and 6,000 kits were procured from AfriPads.
“These pads can be used for up to 12 months. I have come with a team to educate the girls on menstrual hygiene, and on the care and proper use of the pads,” the Speaker said at the launch.
The Area Member of Parliament, Hon. Lanyero Molly, said the CSR addressed an area that girls have been grappling with and is a step in promoting girls’ education. She urged boys to be caring and supportive to girls and not stigmatise them. She said it is the responsibility of parents, guardians, teachers and the wider community to support girls because of their unique health needs.
While talking to local councilors, teachers and pupils of Puranga and Acholibur Primary School in Pader District on Wednesday, the Woman Member of Parliament, Hon. Lowila CD Oketayot said there is need for action to ensure girls enroll and complete their education.
“We should not just be talking and lamenting about this problem. The world is not hungry for words, the world is hungry for action,” she said.
The legislator thanked the Speaker, Members of Parliament and staff for showing the need to act by providing sanitary pads to girls.
According to the District Education Officer Lamwo District, Barnabas Langoya, the school completion rates amongst girls are very low. He attributed it to poverty and cultural practices that hinder girls’ education such as early marriages.
“Since 2011 when we enrolled pupils, only 31 percent of boys and 26 percent of girls are set to complete their primary level,” he said “With the girl child, the biggest reason for the high drop out rates are the lack of sanitary pads. Most parents cannot afford pads so girls remain at home and eventually drop out of school and are married off.” A study on menstrual management conducted in schools in eastern and northern Uganda indicates that school girls miss up to eight days of school study each term because they are in their periods.
The sanitary pads distribution by Parliament, which started in Agoro and Dicwinyi Primary School in Lamwo District, continued to Kitgum Girls Primary School and Lagotcuku Primary School in Kitgum District. The CSR also extended to Pader District in Puranga and Acholibur Primary School.
Thousands of girls have benefited from the initiative designed to promote school attendance and completion. The Parliament staff also educated pupils on the roles of a Member of Parliament and distributed tokens from Parliament that included books, pens, cups and publications for the schools’ resource centre and libraries.