In Ghana, the transition from primary school to junior high is a very vulnerable time for girls, and the onset of puberty can create barriers to school attendance. Without adequate menstrual hygiene supplies, girls can miss 3 to 5 days of school each month, leading to poor grades and slower progress to graduation when compared to their male peers. If they miss enough school, girls may eventually choose to drop out, often leading to early marriage and/or pregnancy. In addition to lack of supplies and facilities for managing menstruation, girls and boys often lack accurate, comprehensive knowledge about menstruation, resulting in stigma and poor choices.
To improve girls’ school attendance and provide youth with effective reproductive health education, 4W partnered with Rotary International and Days for Girls to provide free, washable sanitary pads to more than 15,000 junior high school girls in Ghana through the “Be in School Every Day” project. Kits include washable pads, soap, panties, a washcloth, and a string back-pack to discretely transport the products. The project also supports enterprise development by training women in nearby communities to make the products locally. In addition to these kits, girls receive training on adolescent reproductive physiology, basic hygiene, menstruation, and self-defense. Meanwhile, the “Men Who Know” curriculum teaches boys about male and female physiology and how to support their female peers rather than shame them.