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Sanitary improvements in Uganda keep girls in school

Although in Western civilization they are a common necessity rather than a luxury, for many young women in Uganda, sanitary pads are too expensive. This issue has caused women to put a halt to their educational goals in the past, IRIN reports.

But now, as a way to give girls a real chance of graduating, many schools in the northern Amuru and Gulu regions have started after school programs for students to make sanitary pads to ensure they don't miss class during their menstruation.

Using materials that are available locally, the programs teach both boys and girls how to make the sanitary pads that will give female students the means to confidently attend school, when they couldn't before, the news source reports.

Nighty Acan, Gulu's Awer Primary school patron, said this program is a real way to give girls a chance at success.

"The [sanitary] towels are easy to use because they can be washed and used over and over. They can last several months, saving parents their meagre income," Acan told IRIN.

Purchasing sanitary pads at one of the local markets would typically cost 5,000 Ugandan shillings or $2.50 U.S., which, for the majority of the lower class families in Uganda, is just too much to spend, according to the news source.

Minister of Culture Joseph Habineza HABINEZA in Rawanda said in a recent speech that he advised people to continue to talk about subjects such as menstruation, that are typically viewed as taboo, as a way to reduce health risks for girls, The Forum For African Women Educationalists (FAWE) said.

Since the free pad program began at the Awich Primary School in 2010, girls' enrollment was increased from 268 to 310 in 2011.
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