Thursday, December 2, 2010

Comfort Campaign

 Innovative ways to Keep Girls in School

 The natural process of menstruation comes as a big problem to women and girls in many parts of Africa, contributing to both disempowerment and health risks. Sometimes there are taboo subjects that people don't want to talk about but also being open about these taboo subjects can bring about positive changes in society. One such example is menstruation, and its impact on keeping the girls in school during their periods. In addition to family pressures to stay at home to help with chores or child rearing, girls that do try to persevere with their education may end up dropping out once they reach puberty, at the onset of menstruation.  When a young girl starts to menstruate, she may experience negative attitudes which result in her being prohibited from cooking or even banished to the countryside during her period. In some religious sects, women and girls are not allowed to attend church or any religious gathering during their period because they are deemed unclean at that moment. In some African societies, some men shun food prepared by women during their period. In Africa, the menstruation experience impacts negatively on girls due to lack of appropriate and affordable sanitary products such as pads. Research shows that in Africa some girls drop out of school due to lack of sanitary pads, separate toilets and easy access to clean water. 

Wellspring Women's Network is undertaking an initiative to help make affordable sanitary products available to young girls and women in less privileged societies of Zimbabwe, Southern Africa. The goal of this initiative is to source and seek for donations of sanitary products, and make them available to these needy people. This is in conjunction with providing basic training in menstrual hygiene. Through provision of Comfort Kits, Wellspring Women’s Network believes it can make a valuable contribution to help these underprivileged girls. Traditionally, women and girls in most rural areas have used cloth rags, tree bark, newspapers as sanitary wear during their monthly menstruation cycle.  However, in some cases, cloth is scarce. Also in many parts of Africa clean water is scarce and this compromises the hygienic standards of maintaining these sanitary cloths The Comfort kits  are pre-packed  kits with sanitary ware that includes re-usable wash cloths, conventional store bought pads, soap among other items as shown below. Each kit will also provide a basic education manual on Menstrual Hygiene and also basic education on HIV/AIDS prevention. Because of emotional and psychological tension associated with the menstrual process, it is estimated that within the 4 years of high school some girls loose 156 learning days, equivalent to 22 weeks out of 144 weeks of learning in high school. This initiative by Wellspring Women’s network is aimed at helping alleviate this problem and enable girls attend school and fulfill their academic abilities.  There is also a need for social innovation around this issue. Global alliances between the developed and underdeveloped societies can be a key solution to the problem and ensure that every woman be able to have access to the right products which can enable them to happily experience menstruation.