It is a widespread but unacknowledged problem that girls in Africa miss school and stay at home because of menstruation. According to UNICEF, one in ten schoolgirls in Africa miss classes or drop out completely due to their period, and substitute regular pads or tampons for less safe and less absorbent materials such as rags, newspaper or bark¹.
There are many aspects that link young schools girls’ attendance rates to their menstrual cycles. In the poorer peri-urban and rural schools there is lack of affordable sanitary products and facilities, the lack of clean and healthy sanitation such as toilets and running water and the lack of safe and private ablution facilities. The lack of essential resources makes it easy to understand why a young menstruating girl would choose staying at home rather than attending school. The taboo nature of menstruation also prevents girls and their communities from talking about and addressing the problem. Raising awareness and education to eliminate the stigma of menstruation is an essential building block to tackling this problem.
Project Dignity aims to use existing networks of community educators and Life Orientation Teachers in schools to raise awareness and distribute the Subz Pants and Pads product to young girls aged 10-19 years. Each young woman will receive face to face awareness raising, educational materials and a Subz Pack consisting of 3 pieces of underwear and 9 Subz Pads.
Project Dignity is the roll out and Subz Packs to young girls aged 10-19 years in schools in the Kwa Zulu Natal Province.
Project Dignity hosts 1 hour workshops run in primary and high schools by qualified community educators. Community educators engage pupils in open dialogue on the topics of reproductive health, menstruation, feminine hygiene and sanitary wear with the objective of de-stigmatizing, raising awareness and empowering young girls to remain in school.
Ultimately, Project Dignity will educate and distribute Subz Packs to young girls in the schools or communities.