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Men asked to support girls during menstrual periods

posted 24 May 2016, 01:43 by Sekuma Peter
When Education minister Jessica Alupo was still young, she was supported by her parents, teachers and community members to understand menstruation issues.
Writing in the reader for learners on Understanding and Managing Menstruation, the minister says, “We had books in our school like readers which I used to better understand what menstruation is, why and how it happens”.
“I’m happy to tell you that I never missed school [because of menstruation], [I] participated in all school activities and was able to complete my education. I am now the minister for education and I know you can also make it.”
To drive her message further, Alupo has asked men to support girls during their monthly menstruation period as schools celebrated the Menstrual Hygiene (MH) day last Friday.Under the theme Menstruation matters to everyone everywhere: Father figures it’s your turn, several schools converged at Mackay Memorial College in Nateete, where girls, female teachers and parents shared their experiences of menstruation.

Every May 28, the world celebrates the Menstrual Hygiene day but it was celebrated earlier this time in Uganda. Rosette Nanyanzi, the education ministry’s research officer in the Gender Unit, said they chose May 6 so school children can participate in the event before they break off for first-term holidays. Nanyanzi said the theme was intended to draw attention to the need for men to play a role in menstrual management issues.
“Many men shy away from the subject of menstruation because it is perceived to be a woman’s issue. At school, boys and male teachers often find it difficult to support girls in menstruation. Even religious leaders and other opinion leaders shy away from the subject, leaving it to the mothers and aunties,” Nanyanzi said.
A 2012 study conducted by The Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) and IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre estimated that close to four million Ugandan girls live without proper sanitary care. As a result, girls miss up to eight days of study per term, while others drop out entirely due to lack of menstrual hygiene. According to Nanyanzi, father figures can support girls and women to manage menstruation through keeping them in school and providing the necessary items during this period.
In a circular to schools, the ministry’s director of Basic and Secondary Education, Dr Yusuf Nsubuga, last year tasked schools to provide emergency changing uniforms, wrappers, pairs of knickers, sanitary towels and painkillers for girls, when needed during menstruation.
“All boys and male teachers in schools should be made aware and sensitized to support [female] pupils cope with the challenges they face during their menstrual periods,” Nsubuga directed. Nanyanzi hopes that with men on board, the silence and stigma around menstruation will end.