With the support of our donor partner, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), we have launched several initiatives with the aim of bridging the gender gap in schools to create equal opportunities for all. The project has targeted selected schools in the Northern, Brong Ahafo and Upper East regions of Ghana.
1. Provision of sanitary pads
Each month, the AFAWI team distributed 3,336 sanitary pads to 417 female students at three different schools; Babato-Kuma L/A Junior High School, Kurabaso L/A JHS and Abilba Number 1 L/A JHS. At first, the girls were unfamiliar with the use of sanitary pads so they were give demonstrations and taught the advantages of using hygienic feminine products.
2. Installing incineratorsIncinerators were installed at two of the schools to provide the students with a safe and hygienic method for disposing of the sanitary pads. The third school will be fitted with an incinerator with the second round of funding.
3. Discussion workshops
Workshops were held for both boys and girls in separate groups and together to teach them about sexual maturation, healthy menstrual management and the issues of HIV/AIDS and to provoke open discussion. The aim of the workshops was to increase awareness and knowledge of 814 male and female students across the three schools, in order to change their behavior and improve gender equality.
Other activities carried out as part of this project include:
1. Round-table discussions for policy makers about developing the curriculum to include sexual maturation, menstrual hygiene management and reproductive health.
2. Efforts to improve teaching of sexual maturation and menstrual hygiene management practices for girls and boys.
3. Organization of a capacity building workshops, whereby the teachers at the three schools received training.
Prior to the project taking place, AFAWI’s research in Babato-Kuma L/A JHS found that very few girls were using safe and hygienic menstrual management practices and were often using toilet roll or used cloth during their periods. Once the girls were supplied with sanitary pads and hygienic disposal units they were able to safely manage their periods with no difficulty. As a result, attendance rates of girls have improved.
In addition, incidents of open defecation at Babato-Kuma L/A JHS have reduced tremendously due to an extensive educational program undertaken by AFAWI and the chief of Babato-Kuma.