Eliza Desderi, 16 years old a form three, student at Kwabutu secondary school, In Muheza District Council, Tanzania , for two months now she has not been able to attend to school during her periods , and has missed a total of 14 days school days. When she first had her period, her mother taught her how to use an old piece of Kanga as a cloth pad. On her first use, the cloth pads leaked and embarrassed her in class, and in a class of over 60 students both mixed class , meaning boys and girls in the same stream. Following this incident, Her mother, a peasant farmer , who had few months earlier separated from her father , had made sure that Eliza Could access one pack of Disposable pads, which she could use only use during the day at school.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the situation has not been the same again, her mothers’ small Cassava selling business has business has not been doing well, and she has not been able purchase for Eliza, that one packet of Sanitary Pads. She is no longer Confident using the cloth rages for her period while attending school and has decided, based on her earlier menstrual experience to stay at home until she finishes her period which last 7 days every month .
Asked if she could appeal to her mother, to buy her just one pack of sanitary Pads, this was her answer ’’How do I begin burdening my mother with the request for pads, when putting food on the table for all of us, is already a problem’’… Eliza says this crying, with drops of tears on her cheek
Eliza Scored Straights As in all the subjects in her end term exams and she is now worried , that her performances this year might fall tremendously below average . Her worst fear, is that if this situation continue till next year 2021,when she is sitting for her final fourth year exam, she might not be able to pass her final qualifying examination and be able to achieve her dream of becoming Civil Engineer as well as accomplish the dream and aspirations that her mother and her two siblings have on her in her.
For US$ 3.5, Eliza , can Access reusable sanitary Towels , ‘’Salama pad’’, which she can Use for 3 years
Inspired by her personal menstrual experience and the experience of other young girls such as Eliza, who have to go through the same experience, stress , shame, fear and stigma, Miss Lucy Achieng Odiwa, Founder & CEO WomenChoice Industries has set out to manufacture and distribute high quality, Low cost reusable sanitary towels to 42,857 in school Girls in Tanga region, Tanzania , to improve young socially disadvantaged girls school attendance, academic performances and help them dream again, the vision for which they are set to achieve in their life time.
Young girls in Tanzania face a myriad of Menstrual Hygiene Management challenges, Lack of information, Lack of Products , catapulted by lack of adequate sanitary disposal facilities in schools, coupled with discriminatory social and cultural norms, myths, misconceptions and practices that make it difficult to maintain healthy menstrual hygiene. Forcing them to use unhygienic products, remain absent from school for 4-7 days per month (48- 84 days per year)impacting on their academic performance and engage in risky behaviors such as trading sex for pads with men twice or three times their age leading to unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortion, sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS