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.
Thanks to our partners for supporting this project: Days for Girls Ghana, Ghana Educational Services, Rotary International, and the Rotary Clubs of Madison, Wisconsin, and Ghana.
Activities and Impacts
Years 1 and 2:
- Provided training and kits for 4,629 girls and training for 3,774 boys in 19 junior high schools in Kpone Katamansu, a peri-urban district in an industrial area of Ghana.
- Provided kits for 6,000 girls and training for 5,219 boys and 670 parents in 121 schools in the Suhum, East Akim, Ayensuano, and Akuapem North districts in the Easter Region of Ghana. Schools and communities in these areas are remote and impoverished, with little to no hygiene management alternatives available to girls.
- Trained two teams of four to five women each in kit enterprise development.
- 4W provided scholarships to two UW-Madison students to intern with Days for Girls Ghana for six weeks in the summers of 2018 and 2019. Among other tasks, interns provided ongoing support for teachers and developed educational content and games to supplement the Days for Girls training curriculum. Interns from Summer 2019, Samantha Lettenberger and Anusha Naik, received a Wisconsin Without Borders Award for their exceptional work supporting youth in Ghana.
- Project leader Mary Crave led three groups of Madison Rotarians to Ghana to observe the project and learn more about the barriers that girls face. This helped Rotary partners build capacity in program design, cultural appreciation, and partnership development, as well as advocate for the project with Rotary funders.
In Year 3 of the program, we hope to provide another 6,000 girls with kits and training in the Winneba area, Central Region of Ghana. As a coastal community, boys and girls are often tempted to leave school early, enticed by quick money in the fishing industry. This emphasizes the need for the Be in School Everyday Project.
With this initiative, the Rotary Club of Winneba is broadening their community reach and impact. Our project team will use a new training approach, working with School Health Education Program teachers from 90 schools over two days.
These teachers will adapt the Days for Girls curriculum and develop experiential activities for themselves and the schools’ Girl Child Coordinators to teach boys and girls over the course of the school year and beyond. Additionally, local Ghana Health Services nurses will train parents. Each school will also receive a portable water tap, as the lack of hand washing facilities at many schools also hinders girls’ hygiene.