Msichana Uganda, IUEA donate reusable sanitary pads to Iganga girls

A section of beneficiaries displaying their reusable pads received from Msichana Uganda Organization in partnership with International University of East Africa (IUEA) Photo/Courtesy

Iganga, (UG): At least 200 girls from various schools and community teenage mothers in Nawansega, Namungalwe Town Council in Iganga District on Saturday received reusable sanitary pads from Msichana Uganda, an NGO based in Mpigi District in partnership with the International University of East Africa (IUEA).

The charity drive dubbed ‘Pad Every Girl’ initiative comes after an outcry from the community to their leaders to have a solution for children in the area to enable them to stay comfortably in schools and this prompted leaders to lobby the organization to facilitate menstrual hygiene in schools and community girls and deter early marriage and teenage pregnancies resulting from lack of sanitary pads.

YOU MAY READ: BUSOGA: Girls resort to sponge, soil-made pads for menstrual hygiene

While donating the reusable pads to the girls on Saturday at Kabuko Primary School, the Executive Director Msichana Uganda, Ms. Nakandi Winnie noted the challenge of inability by parents to provide their girls with sanitary pads in various regions of the country and she urged parents to befriend their children so as to know their challenging concerns for quick attention. 

“We have noted that this problem of lacking pads by girls exists in a number of regions in Uganda and this is a result of parents who lack the financial capacity to help their children. I call upon parents to befriend their children such that they get to know their problems instead of sharing them with strangers who end up impregnating them because they want money to buy pads,” Ms Nakandi said.

She also called upon the government to intervene and give out pads to children as earlier promised, as well as reducing taxes on sanitary pads such that any girl can be in a position to access them.

“We beseech the government to push these sanitary pads down to people by removing taxes to enable everyone to use them. Now you can find a packet of pads costing between 30k to 35k yet a girl may need 2 packets a month and this will seem extravagance to parents who are not responsible enough,” Nakandi added.

The primary school girls who benefited were from Kabuko Primary School, Ukasha Islamic Nursery and Primary School and Excel Nursery and Primary School in Namungalwe town council, Iganga District. Other girls were from some nearby secondary schools plus the teenage mothers in the community.

The assortment of reusable sanitary pads which were donated by Msichana Uganda NGO

The NRM youth chairperson for Namungalwe Town Council and Iganga District, Mr. Buyinza Abdulrahim who lobbied the Msichana Uganda charity drive to the area lamented how the girls in the area are marrying at tender ages while others drop out of schools due to lack of sanitary pads. 

Mr. Buyinza who was speaking to DailyExpress in an interview revealed that he was touched by a story which was earlier published concerning the struggle by girls to have hygienic menstruations and that this prompted him to reach out to ED of Msichana Uganda, Ms Winnie Nakandi following the outcry of the children after noting it as an issue that keeps them out of school.

“There has been a situation where these girls could get out of schools, especially during their menstrual period and others told me they were using clothes and sponges which can affect their health. We believe that by giving out pads to these girls, the rate of teenage pregnancies and school dropouts will reduce,” Mr Buyinza said. 

He added that a number of parents tend to be irresponsible by abandoning the girls and instead marry them off immediately after dropping out of school without working on their challenges, however, he commended the LC1 chairperson for strongly fighting this kind of behaviour by parents.

“The option after girls dropping out of schools is marrying them off but I want the thank the chairperson LC1 for tussling with parents but their mindset has not changed. When a girl is impregnated, the parent enters mutual discussions with the suspect and when authorities come in, they take it as burdening them.”

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A section of pupils, students and community teenage mothers who turn up on Saturday

Pupils, students and community mothers in the area say they face a challenge of lack of sanitary pads for proper menstrual hygiene and this makes them leave schools while others are forced into early sex for money to buy pads.

A one Nankwanga, (not her real name), a pupil at Kabuko PS in Nawansega B told DailyExpress that she has been using old cloths to pad herself and sometimes cutting old mattress sponge for padding. She says this alternative came since the parents couldn’t provide money to buy pads and this has been causing discomfort to her during menstrual times.

What local leaders say

However, the women leaders in the area led by Women Chairperson Nawansega A, Ms Naigaga Sumayah and Ms. Mutesi Hasifah (Nawansega B) decried how husbands have abandoned responsibilities to the wives yet they don’t have incomes to support the children and the girls end up involving in early sex for money. They also pointed out poverty in families resulting in domestic violence where parents ignore the needs of the children.

“Poverty in homes causes domestic violence and parents can’t help their children when they have needs like buying them sanitary pads. Parents can agree when poverty isn’t in the family but here is a situation where our girls cannot get all needs and they end up falling in love at an early age,” Ms Mutesi Hasifah said before appreciating Msichana organization and calling upon the government to intervene.

The chairperson LC1 Nawansega B, Mr. Sule Charles said some parents don’t include sanitary pads on the list of requirements for girls yet they are more essential to lives of their daughters. Sule says they will engage the parents more to ensure the hygiene of their daughters during menstruation.

Poverty in Busoga

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Busoga has been on the spot for unhygienic menstruation management in some girls whereas others have opted to using sponges as an alternative for sanitary pads plus other unhygienic ways through which girls manage their menstrual periods.

A number of girls in Busoga have since experienced these challenges while in school and this has seen a number of them dropping out of school. 

Most people are pointing at domestic violence as the cause of teenage pregnancies and marrying at tender ages arising from a lack of requirements for girls like sanitary pads which are prerequisites for their stay in school.

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