News / Africa

Education Activists in Malawi Fight Absenteeism With Pads

In this photo dated June 12, 2007, school children are seen in a classroom in the village of Chiseka, outside Lilongwe, Malawi.
In this photo dated June 12, 2007, school children are seen in a classroom in the village of Chiseka, outside Lilongwe, Malawi.
Lameck Masina
The Forum for African Women Educationists in Malawi (FAWEMA), with funding from a Canadian organization, is working on a pilot project to provide affordable sanitary pads to school girls to reduce absenteeism.
 
A recent study by FAWEMA shows 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.

Cecilia Njoka is the project officer at FAWEMA.

“The challenges that these girls, mostly in rural areas, are facing is that when they are menstruating, they would not go to school. And [another problem is about] the sanitary menstrual hygiene, because if they go to school they fear messing up their uniform [since] they have nowhere to change their clothes and make themselves clean and comfortable so that they go back and attend classes.”

Njoka says to reverse the trend, the organization has engaged women volunteers known as mother groups who are producing reusable sanitary pads from local materials, which help improve hygiene among adolescent girls in both primary and secondary schools.

“To help them remain in class, what we are doing is to ensure that the girls have sanitary pads that they are able to use in school, and at the same time change into another one, and also have a washroom where they can get into the room, clean themselves and attend the class.” 

NGO assistance

The World University Service of Canada (WUSC) provided funds to pilot the project which started in October 2012.

Lesley Kitting is a Canadian volunteer with the project.  She told Malawi’s state television station that the pads are approved by hygiene experts.

“The pads are made of towering flex form and washable fabric, so as long as the girls wash the pads properly and not share the pads, they are determined to be quite safe.  We have consulted with the Canadian doctors and Malawian gynecologist as well as an American nurse. If anything, it requires washing.” 

Girls themselves, agree. Joyce Mkandawire is the communications adviser for Girls Empowerment Network, a Blantyre-based NGO which works to advance the rights, status and well-being of adolescent girls in the country.

“The pads have proven to be effective, because pads which we use are not affordable and we use it once and then you throw it way. And it’s also expensive. But these reusable sanitary pads you can use it and wash it and use it as long as you may want to. It is something that you can use it at home and dry it, so you can use it for over a time rather than the pads we use today, you use it today and then you junk it.”

Similar projects are reported to have helped keep girls in school in many African countries, including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

In Malawi, the project is being piloted at Mwasibu Community Day Secondary School in the capital, Lilongwe. Funds permitting, Njoka says, it is expected to spread to other schools.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More