Lack of safe menstrual hygiene supplies keeps a large proportion of girls out of school for a few days every month, eventually affecting grades, attendance, and likelihood of progress to graduation. 4W teamed with Rotary International and Days for Girls to provide free reusable sanitary pads and training to more than 4,500 junior high school girls in Ghana in 2017 through the Change HERStory project. The accompanying training for both boys and girls helps remove some of the stigma associated with menstruation and helps girls feel more confident and focused in school.
This new project aims to improve girls’ attendance in school by providing reusable menstrual hygiene kits and by increasing girls’ confidence and decreasing stigma through education. It also supports enterprise development by training women to make the kits locally. The project is a partnership among 4W; Rotary Clubs of Madison, Fort Atkinson, and Viroqua in Wisconsin and Tema-Meridian in Ghana; and Days for Girls.
There are many barriers to girls’ attendance and success in school, in Ghana and around the world. In Ghana, a major drop-out point for girls is the transition from primary school and the onset of puberty. After dropping out, they are more like to marry and/or become pregnant early. Without adequate menstrual hygiene supplies, girls miss 3-5 days of school each month, which –even if they remain school—impedes academic success. In addition to the lack of supplies and facilities, girls and boys both suffer from a lack of from a lack of accurate and complete knowledge about menstruation, resulting in stigma. Each female kit recipient receives 2-3 hours of training on adolescent reproductive physiology, basic hygiene, menstrual management, and self-defense. Boys’ Being a Man curriculum focuses on male physiology and learning how to be supportive of rather than shaming girls.
- Trained boys and girls in 11 schools in a peri-urban area (Kpone Katamanso) of Ghana, reaching 2430 boys, and 3117 girls, to whom kits were also distributed.
- Trained 4 teams of 2 women each in enterprise development.
- Built the capacity of partner Days for Girls, by improving training methods for the school outreach Ambassadors, implement a more credible and rigorous evaluation system, and bring together partners for program sustainability.
- Worked with Rotary Madison to contribute expertise and build capacity in program design, training, Ghanaian culture, partnership development, and evaluation processes (including accessing UW-Extension’s IRB).
- Expand training and distribution of 6000 kits in two districts in the Eastern Region of Ghana, as well as forming new enterprise teams.
- Provide additional support for Ambassadors to make training relevant and engaging for students.
- Continue to develop capacity for program management, proposal development and evaluation in project partners.