“A period should end a sentence not a girl’s education.” [Pad Project Motto]
Unfortunately, this is not what is happening all over the world – in rural Zambia, where Impact Network works, a period can often upend a young woman’s education completely. Too many girls cannot afford or access sanitary pads, which means that when they get their monthly period they have to turn to unhealthy alternatives like dirty rags and old clothes. On top of the risk of infection, they also have to miss school and the more they miss, the more likely they are to lag behind their male counterparts.
While part of the struggle is financial, girls also need someone they trust to explain what is happening to their bodies. Traditionally in a typical African home, parents have limits on what to share with their children, and young girls are often told to get their knowledge from a grandmother or elder who may not include critical information.
Impact Network saw the need to teach girls how to make their own reusable pads, how to talk about their bodies appropriately, and how to take proper care of themselves. We started workshops to promote menstrual health hygiene, and ensure that girls are not vulnerable to health issues once they hit puberty. Our program is designed for girls’ ages between 14 and 18 – and we also allow space to let the girls share their views, their hopes, and their own unique dreams. We have just expanded this initiative to include all of our upper primary female students, as well as our junior league NetGirls teams. We are looking forward to rolling out the program over the next year!
It is often said, that if you educate a girl, you educate the future – Impact Network is preparing for the future with females at the forefront!
- Chitalu Kaite and Caroline Chibale