ADDRESSING THE CHALLENGE
Education of young women presents a dynamic opportunity for female youth to build sustainable careers and livelihoods. But the event of menarche tends to coincide with girls’ transitions from primary to secondary education and has shown to constitute a barrier for continued school attendance and performance one of the root causes of gender inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In Ghana, many girls will leave school or decide to stay home during their period each month due to cultural stigma and affordability of hygiene sanitary products. Adolescent girls (age group 12-18 years) miss on average 5 days of school per. Around 23% of these girls actually drop out of school after they start menstruating. Even girls who do attend school participate significantly less in class while menstruating.
Some major causes of this gender inequality are the lack of resources and pads in rural areas available to the girls. Also most cannot afford sanitary pads even if they are available. They instead resort to using unclean rags, newspaper, used cloth, or extra underwear to manage their flow. These solutions are highly unsanitary and ineffective. They cause infections and other health complications which only furthers gender inequality in Ghana. The result is that many girls never finish school.
The people in rural areas in Ghana are mostly peasant farmers and can’t afford sanitary pads for their girl child. The mother herself doesn’t use a pad and she doesn’t see why she should buy a pad for her girl child who is attending school. Some have never seen a sanitary napkin before. The usual practice is to use discarded cloth (rags), which the girls felt did not offer sufficient protection on the long walks to school, soiling themselves in the presence of others which in turn, prompted them to stay home. It is common in these sites to find that girls had no experience with sanitary pads. Women on the other hand limit their social life, temporarily stop working, and are not allowed into some houses of worship and public places during their times of menstruation or cook a particular food because there are consider unclean.
A research released by Ghana Education Service (GES) and UNICEF revealed the significant consequences of limited knowledge about menstrual hygiene practices for girls and society in general during 2017 Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) day celebrated in Accra, Ghana. According to the research, 50% of adolescent girls in Ghana did not know anything about menstruation before they had their first period with 95% of girls sometimes miss school due to menstruation.
The imported sanitary pads are made from chemical products, too costly and inaccessible to rural areas, less eco-friendly and target mostly city dwellers.
AFRIPRIDE Sanitary Pads are the only sustainable and locally produced product available to these women. It is pads of the women for the women and by the women. AFRIPRIDE Sanitary Pads are organic, biodegradable and affordable napkins made from banana/plantain fiber and other local materials. Women are integrated in the whole value chain from raw material production to manufacturing and distribution.
We provide education about menstrual hygiene and working to dispel the harmful stigmas surrounding female menstruation. Women and girls can be proud to wear AFRIPRIDE Sanitary Pads. It is a unique product that is produced using local materials with no chemical for sale or supply to rural schools and distributed in rural communities and on weekly market.
We work with the Ghana Education Service and Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection to promote the distribution of our pads and education to schools/communities in need as well as Ministry of Food and Agriculture to train and advises banana/plantain farmers to increase production for reverse logistics and intercropping farming towards community livelihood empowerment