“When I look at a woman, I see strength, courage, patience, and most importantly potential … a full person whom only needs to be empowered to fulfill their potential.”– Kigere Rose Cavuma executive director of WORI
Hello friends, relatives, and all those taking the time to read this, thank you for your consideration.. I am reaching out on behalf of the non-profit organization Women Right’s Initiative (WORI).
WORI is a women led non-profit organization based in Jinja, Uganda working on a grass roots level to support women and girls in their community. Among their many projects, they have created and manufacture a product “Star Durable Pads” as a part of their menstrual hygiene program. It is here that I have been involved. "Period poverty", or the lack of access/affordability to menstrual products, keeps girls home from school and women out of work. This undermines gender equality and girls’ capacity to break from intergenerational poverty.
“Star Durable Pads” are re-usable menstrual pads, which they sell, and donate when able, to schools and communities within the Jinja district. Inseparable from the pads is the comprehensive menstrual hygiene training that gives accurate information about menstruation and aims to address myths, taboo, and stigma associated with menstruation. For some women, our product still remains unaffordable and they may be left with unhygienic options to manage their menstruation. For these cases, we a offer hand-sewing skills training so women can craft their own sustainable sanitary pads. The profits from the sale of the pads go towards funding these educational programs.
"Menstruation is an issue of human rights and dignity...When women and girls cannot adequately manage their menstruation it impacts on their human rights including on the right to education, the right to work, the right to health, and on gender equality and personal dignity." (Menstrualhygieneday.org). Through giving access to sexual and reproductive health education as well as access to menstrual products, this project aims to empower women and girls to attain their human rights and prosper.
Some background information about Uganda (Jinja District):
Period poverty effects women and girls world-wide to different degrees. Within the Jinja District, "Community Concerns Uganda" in partnership with Amplify Change, conducted a survey to get a better picture of this issue here. Relaying the findings of this survey with the intention to raise awareness of how and why these girls are missing out on the opportunity to attend school. The voice, and therefore the needs, of women and girls are often times forgotten, ignored and oppressed. The taboo around menstruation persists due to the insistence via social pressure that women remain silent around this issue. We hope in sharing these statistics, the needs of these girls can be heard and addressed here in Jinja.
(If you are interested in reading the full survey, please contact me and I will be happy to share!)
According to the findings of a 2017 survey Report in Jinja and Mayuge districts by Community Concerns Uganda;
19% of adolescent girls aged 10-14 had never heard the word menstruation, 55.9% did not know how women/girls undergo menstruation, 94.5% did not know the source of menstrual blood, while 30.6% of girls and most boys believed that menstruation is a disease/curse.
Most girls (39.9%) were using pieces of cloth, panties, toilet paper, sitting in the sand and local herbs to manage menstrual flow. The major causes of absenteeism included inadequate sanitary pads (57.7%), stigma associated with menstruation (43.5%), and lack of a place to change and clean (34.2%). Most girls (59.3%) who missed school due to menstruation were concerned that it had an impact on their academic performance.
The Ugandan Ministry of Health in 2016 estimated that 30% of Ugandan girls from poor families miss school because of lack of sanitary towels. Despite progress in poverty reduction, significant numbers of adolescent girls and their families are still too poor to afford sanitary pads, leading to increase in school drop-out rates, propelling them into child marriages and early pregnancies, thus depriving them of full educational attainment.
- WHERE EXACTLY DOES THE MONEY GO?
The money raised in this fundraiser will go first towards building upon what WORI already has going in the Menstrual Hygiene Program; buying material to make pads, paying local tailors’ wages, and conducting more menstrual hygiene trainings. All these are necessary processes in order to support girls to stay in school and women to stay active in their daily lives.
If enough funding is gathered, WORI has goals of improving upon the product with more absorbent microfiber material, which is currently unaffordable. WORI is also hoping to step away from plastic in our packaging and move into entirely recyclable material. In schools, the hope is to be able to provide water tanks, soap, and other basic hygienic materials the girls could use for the safe maintenance of their pads. If possible to afford, WORI has been eager to produce and supply pads for the current influx of refugees into Uganda, it would be amazing to have the ability to meet that urgent need.
If you find it in your heart to be a part of this work, we greatly any appreciate any amount you are able to donate. For reference one pack (of 3 pads) costs $1.75 USD. Many people in Uganda earn under $1.90/day or less (2016 World Bank Assessment), and unfortunately the need for sanitary pads will often not be a priority or possibility to provide. If you have interest in sponsoring a class, school or individual girl with pads, we would be happy to arrange that with you! Please feel free to contact me with any questions, check us out on social media, and share this along!