In the schools involved in the HER CHOICE programme, girls’ sexual and reproductive health (SHR) issues were not addressed before the project started. Girls tried to secretly face those type of issues all alone. For instance, during the menstrual cycle, they tried to manage it individually and struggle to attend classes, or out of frustration skip school altogether.
Not long after HER CHOICE had started, following the awareness creation through peer education sessions, the girls began to talk at school on how to address their SRH to prevent it becoming an obstacle to their schooling. For instance, at the Getem primary school in Sankura woreda, girls got together to discuss on how to find solutions to supply sanitary pads to those who cannot afford buying them, and manage their periods at school.
What they came up with is a very entrepreneurial idea: they started to prepare handcrafted products to be sold in the local communities. The money collected would end up in a common account to subsidize sanitary pads for those in need. The handcrafts they are producing are high demand products, used to decorate coffee ceremonies in their villages. When we asked the girls how they manage the continuity of production in terms of school time and access to market, they responded “…it is our own initiative, we plan when to produce, who participates when, how to monitor the quality of the product, etc. Additionally, we have the collaboration of the SRH teachers and the school principal in promoting our products through ceremonies and spreading the information to parents. We have a specific day a week during which we sell our products to those who requested them. We have also used the teacher-parent mid-term meetings to gain publicity and we were able to sell a number of products to some of the parents, and have already a total of 1150 birr (35 euros) in our account. We plan to do the same for the teacher-parent meetings at the end of the school year.”
The aim of their great initiative is to buy sanitary pad and keep them in stocks in their sanitary room at school, so that all girls can have access to them. We appreciated their initiative very much, and inspired us to look into possibilities to start a production of sanitary pad from locally available materials.
From Tagese Helore – Program Manager, Love In Action Ethiopia