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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs