News / Africa

    In Malawi, Sanitary Pads Help Improve School Attendance for Girls

    x
    Lameck Masina
    In Malawi, a local NGO is seeking to economically empower young girls and kept others in school by making and using sanitary pads.  That’s because many girls stay home rather than go to class when they have their menstrual cycles.

    The project, known as ‘Keeping Girls in School’, is championed by the Girls Empowerment Network, or GENET.  It’s a Blantyre-based NGO which works to advance the rights, status and well-being of adolescent girls.
     
    The girls learn tailoring skills, in part by making re-usable sanitary pads from imported water-proof materials.   
     
    Joyce Mkandawire, the communications adviser for GENET, says  “The project is about social entrepreneurship where we have reached out to girls who have been literally doing nothing in their homes. Some [have earned their] Junior Certificates of Education while others have Primary School Leaving Certificates, but were just sitting in their homes without anything to do. So we have to look at the way of assisting them through entrepreneurship skills and keeping some other girls in school.”
     
    Mkandawire says the one year pilot project seeks to train 30 girls to make the pads and also to mend women’s clothes. They will be distributed to girls to 15 rural primary schools in southern districts of Blantyre and Mulanje.
     
    In the meantime the project has enrolled the first 10 girls in areas just outside Malawi’s commercial capital Blantyre.  They are currently taking part in the three month-long training course.  Afterwards, they will be placed in a group of three girls each which will receive a sewing machine for making and selling the pads.
     
    “After training," says Mkwandawire, "these girls will have their own businesses in their communities [where] they are expected to train more girls so that it has the multiplier effect. They have gotten the skills from here but also they should transfer the skills to others from there. So the project will be buying the sanitary pads from the girls from their businesses.”
     
    Mkandawire says the pads are an effort to keep girls from skipping classes. The NGO will buy the pads and distribute them for free to the school girls.  The project leaders say the pads are re-usable and should last for up to three years. 
     
    Some studies in Malawi show that many female students in rural areas stay away from schools for at least five days during their menstrual periods, a development that affects their performance in class.
     
    “Some Malawi statistics," she explains, "show that some girls enroll in primary school but fail to continue with their education because some have started menstrual period. So we had to look at a way when we could keep the girls in school.”
     
    Catherine Keta is among the girls learning to make sanitary pads at the organization’s offices in Blantyre.
     
    “This training," she says, "will assist us so much because we have been staying home.  Now it’s just like we have something to do that can empower us. Now the future holds something great because life will longer be the same as I have something to do even after I go home”
     
    Another trainee Yasinta Mpinji is being raised in a family with only one parent, her mother.  She says the tailoring skills will help turn around the living standards of living in her family.  
     
    “I have my mum only," she says, "and I feel tailoring can improve our family because if I do this [tailoring business] I can buy food, some clothes and may be use part of the funds to pay for my school fees as well as for my younger sisters and I can even teach my mother and other people how to do tailoring.”
     
    The project is run with support from the United Nations Human Settlements Program, The Netherlands–based aid agency,  the Catholic Organization for Relief and Development Aid and a local beverages company, Carlsberg Malawi Limited.

    Listen to report on sewing project for girls in Malawi
    Listen to report on sewing project for girls in Malawii
    || 0:00:00
    ...    
     
    X

    You May Like

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.