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Uganda joins rest of world to commemorate International Menstruation Hygiene day

John Muyingo, the State Minister for Higher Education speaking at International Menstruation day at Hotel African in Kampala on Tuesday. (PHOTO/NAMULI)

KAMPALA – Ministry of Education and Sports on Tuesday, May 28 spearheaded the celebrations of International Menstruation day at Hotel African in Kampala under the theme “it’s time for Action.”

The ministry organized this alongside a number of organizations that work towards health education and improvement.

Hon John Chrysestom Muyingo, the State Minister for Higher Education officiated the event and remarked that it was indeed time for Ugandans to take action on Menstrual Hygiene

“We have been talking for so long about Menstruation, surely, it’s time for action to ensure every girl has access to menstruation hygiene information and facilities,” Muyingo said.

He added that girls miss out on 11% of school time due to lack of menstruation hygiene information, gender friendly facilities, & negative attitude.

The state minister highlighted that with the interventions of government and civil society organisations, the web of silence- characterized by discriminatory cultural and religious practices, myths and misconceptions about Menstruation in Uganda is slowly breaking.

Speaking at the event, Hajj Ismail Mulindwa Director of Basic Education said girls should be let to menstruate with dignity to avoid them dropping them out of school.

He added that fathers should not be shy to buy odd for their girl-children.

Mr. Kizza Samuel, the WASH National Program Manager remarked that “Menstrual Hygiene is less prioritized though essential for health education  dignity of girls.”

Hon Amongin Jacqueline, Ngora District Woman Representative, urged the government to budget for school girls and provide them with sanitary materials so as they can stay in school.

She highlighted that approximately 23% of girls between the age of 12-18 drop out of school when they begin mensuration, which is a worrying percentage.

Hon Amongin added that “all of us have a role to play in ensuring none of these girls drop out of school.”

“As Parliamentary WASH forum, we want to to see the provision of emergency sanitary towels to all government-funded schools free of charge,” she said.

The Ngora woman MP added that Parliamentary WASH forum commits that by 2025, school absenteeism should not be because of lack of menstruation facilities or failure to manage menstruation,

Over the past few years, menstrual hygiene has received increasing attention in Uganda.

According to a Meniscus report by the Bio-Medical Centre, school absence in Uganda is reported at 28% during period-days, compared with 7% in non-period days.

Meniscus report from UNICEF shows that 98% of schools had pit latrines but only 2% had pad disposal bins.

A WaterAid report carried out in over 30 districts and 5 regions in Uganda showed that only 40% of the schools studied had hand washing facilities and only 30% of those had soap available.

While most Ugandan girls will get their period when they reach puberty, not all of them will have adequate access to the menstrual health supplies, sanitary facilities and information to enable them deal with it effectively.

In Uganda, one in every four adolescent girls who miss school do so because of menstruation-related problems (Adolescent Risk Behavior Study, 2017).

To this call, in 2015, the Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, launched the Menstrual Hygiene Charter to advance the rights and hygiene of Ugandan young women and girls. Strategies to improve menstrual hygiene management have been varied.

Girls packed with menstruation materials. (PHOTO/NAMULI)

Menstrual Hygiene (MH) Day

This is an annual awareness day on May 28; a day dedicated to bringing awareness around the vital role that good menstrual hygiene management plays in empowering women and adolescent girls worldwide to become all that they can be.

It was initiated by the German-based non-government organization- WASH United in 2014 and aims to benefit women and girls worldwide.

The vision behind MH Day is a world in which every woman and girl is able to manage her menstruation in a hygienic way- in safety, privacy, and with dignity- wherever they are.

According to WASH, May 28, was chosen for MH day because May is the fifth month of the year, and women’s menstruation period lasts an average of five days. The 28th was chosen because the average menstrual cycle is 28 days.

This year’s theme is “it time for action” to empower women and girls through Good Menstrual Hygiene.

The silence and social stigma surrounding menstruation will only be broken when women and girls, along with their families, communities, and support systems are equipped and educated with factual information and encouraged to engage in healthy dialogue concerning menstruation hygiene.

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