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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

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