BUYENDE: Lack of sanitary pads leading cause of early marriages, school dropouts in Busoga

Buyende, (UG):- Girls in Busoga’s Buyende District go through a lot of difficulties during their menstruation period due to the lack of sanitary pads which has led to a high rate of school dropout and early pregnancy and marriage in the eastern Uganda district.

Although there are many reasons behind the high rate of early marriage in Buyende district like Poverty, child neglect, child labour, Domestic and Gender-Based Violence, bad peer groups, low self-esteem and ignorance as raised by young girls and Boys in the district, failure of parents to provide sanitary towels to their daughters during menstruation period is considered as the leading cause of school drop out and early pregnancy and marriage.

Josephine Nabirye 16 a student of St Peter’s Namulikya Senior Secondary in Bugaya sub-county Buyende district said that many girls at the school are unable to buy sanitary pads every month instead they use Kavera and rough clothes which prompts them to look for boyfriends who can always provide pads.

She also added that some girls fear to go school during their menstruation period when they don’t have pads because they fear being laughed at.

“As girls, we are forced to get boyfriends who can provide pads to us. And this can lead to early pregnancy and marriage because boys ask for sex in exchange for pads”; said Josephine Nabirye.

Andrew Ngobi a peer educator also said that parents fear talking to their children and don’t provide pads to their daughters and this has led girls to look for solutions. “Parents fear to talk to their children and they don’t provide pads to their daughters maybe because they are expensive”; he said. 

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

Mr Gwolaba Aaron the assistant District Education officer in Buyende accepted that lack of sanitary pads is identified as one the main causes of school dropout and early marriage and appealed to parents to buy reusable sanitary pads for their children.

“It is true that parents are not aware that sanitary pads are very important to the education of the child. Many children even parents themselves don’t know the use of these sanitary pads. So when they go to school in most cases they get problems when they start their menstruation and their colleagues laugh at them and at the end of the day it affects them and they just drop out of school “.

“So I want to appeal to parents to understand that sanitary pads are one the most important things that help our girls especially those who have started menstruation. So we appeal to them that they can buy reusable sanitary pads that are cheap, the child can use them and then keep it”; Mr Gwolaba said.

Meanwhile, the commemorations of the Day of the African Child scheduled today 27th June 2024 at Namulikya primary school in  Bugaya sub-county Buyende district which was organised by Plan International and sponsored by Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and other development partners like Forum for African Women Educationalists(FAWE) it has been revealed that steps are being taken to end early marriage and school drop out however more effort is needed. 

In this case, Plan International with support from KOICA has trained peer educators who are trying to give information about ending child marriage in the community and educating girls and boys to consider books before babies.

FAWE has also trained students both girls and boys on how to make reusable sanitary pads which are used during the menstruation period.

On June 16th of every year, the continent comes together to commemorate the Day of the African Child (DAC). The day was gazetted by the Assembly of African countries’ heads of States and leadership of the Organization of African Union (OAU) in honour of the children who participated in the 16th June, 1976 Soweto student uprising in South Africa.

On that day, thousands of black children took to the streets, to protest the inferior quality of education they were receiving, and demanded the right to be taught in their own language.

Uganda has adopted the AU theme unmodified. This is because the country has been selected by the AU to host the continental commemorations. The theme for this year’s commemoration is therefore “Education for children in Africa: the time is now”.

The theme resonates well with the issues Uganda is grappling with in her education sector, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, alongside other structural and institutional challenges. 

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