Project Launch: 12-31-18
This project is a response to a problem that is emerging in Mgona, Malawi where girls miss school during mensuration due to lack of proper sanitary materials. This has adverse effects on their performance and class attendance and can lead to dropouts. It also hinders girls from participating fully in society, from sports to entrepreneurship.
To tackle this problem, the Breaking Red Project will provide training on menstrual health hygiene and menstruation management, distribute reusable sanitary napkins, teach girls how to make these napkins and provide training to 300 girls in Mgona. Ukani, a local community organization will work with various doctors, teachers, and YALI alumni to conduct these trainings and will mentor girls aged 13-18 both in and out of school. Members of Ukani will meet the girls weekly in the health and hygiene clubs that will be established in the community. These settings will provide the girls with safe spaces to interact and share their struggles as well as learn about menstrual health hygiene management. Through these clubs, girls will receive support and guidance to ensure they stay in school. Parents and teachers will be engaged through open table discussions to break the silence on the challenges that the girls are facing in accessing proper sanitary napkins and be encouraged to take a role working to end the stigma that surrounds issues of menstrual health in Malawi.
Project Update: 4-16-19
This project is aimed at training girls from five different schools and surrounding communities in menstrual hygiene, sexual and reproductive health, and production of reusable sanitary pads. World Connect’s partner organization Ukani Malawi trained 130 volunteers, selected girls, mothers group members and selected teachers. These volunteers have reached out and trained 310 girls to date, and their trainings are continuing. Ukani Malawi has produced 2,500 reusable sanitary pads, which will be distributed to girls in the five schools in April 2019, followed by trainings on how to make the reusable pads. The project has involved doctors and nurses in relaying menstrual health knowledge to the participants, which has been a motivating factor for 16 year old Naomi who said, “Breaking Red has been fun and I have managed to meet role models especially the doctors. They have taught me a lot about my menstrual cycle and how I can manage headaches, mood swings and stomach pains. This project will change my life as the skills gained will remain with me.” More than 600 girls are expected to be impacted at the end of the project.
Final Report: 8-31-19
The Breaking Red Project, implemented in ten months in Mgona Community in Lilongwe, Malawi, trained 310 girls in menstrual hygiene management including reusable sanitary pad making and sexual and reproductive health rights. With the trainings, all the girls have gained functional knowledge and skills sewing reusable sanitary pads from locally sourced materials and are reported to transfer the same skills to other 200 girls indirectly. Ukani Malawi development a menstrual hygiene management manual which the girls are using to transfer knowledge to other girls. Prior to the training in, Ukani distributed 2500 reusable sanitary pads to all the targeted girls. The project has led to an improvement in school attendance rate from 43% to 80% as testified by the Head Teachers from the schools the girls attend. Additionally, the project continues to impact families as each girl has been entrusted with tasks to train siblings and fellow women from their homes, a thing which ensures continued impact of the project among girls and women in Mgona area and beyond. As part of sustainability, 7 clubs have been established where girls continue to train other girls on pad making and other menstrual hygiene related issues.