Period poverty ravaging Malawi

Menstruation brings many challenges to girls who come from underprivileged families as they face stigma due to lack of sanitary pads and are unable to integrate and attend classes.

Period poverty is a barrier to numerous efforts being implemented to empower girls through education as their sense of belonging is diminished.

As Ruth Msosa of Che-Somba Village in T/A Somba testifies, it is undoubted that menstruation for low income families is a barrier to girls’ education.

“It is always hard for girls to come to school during menstruation when they don’t have sanitary pads. Many are the times we feel ashamed because we can’t maintain the hygiene and we cannot afford to hide that,” said Msosa.

As a way of easing this challenge to underprivileged girls, the Girl Up Blantyre donated face masks and reusable sanitary pads to 300 girls at Mpapa Secondary School in Che-Somba, Blantyre to enhance their well-being.

The donation aims at addressing some of the challenges vulnerable girls face during menstruation in the area.

“Availability of resources to most girls hampers the effective management of menstruation. It is evident that in a low-income setup, women struggle to manage menstruation in very effective and hygienic ways a development which impacts their health and well-being negatively,” said Jacqueline Malombe, President of Girl Up Blantyre.

The girls’ grouping believes that the masks and sanitary pads will ensure sustainability in the education context as girls will be proudly attending classes.

“School absenteeism for girls during menstruation is attributed to low esteem, we believe that with the donation we will restore their plight and confidence that will help them attend classes,” said Malombe.

The donation comes courtesy of Petroleum Importers Limited (PIL), Malawi’s major fuel importer, which responded positively when the organization asked for assistance for underprivileged girls.

“We requested PIL to help us with reusable sanitary pads to alleviate challenges associated with menstruation. The company came to our rescue and donated these reusable pads to benefit 300 girls who comes from underprivileged families,” she said.

During the handover, each girl received a pack consisting one face mask and three reusable sanitary pads.

Ruth Msosa revered Girl Up Blantyre saying the donation will end period poverty for many girls in the area.

“This donation will restore our plight and I believe this will minimize the rate of absenteeism,” she said.

In September, PIL donated reusable sanitary pads and face masks worth K1.2 million to Girls Up Blantyre. PIL made the kind gesture to protect girls from stigma that arise around menstruation thereby enhancing their health and well-being.

Girl Up Blantyre is a youth-led girls empowerment organization that focuses on education, leadership training and health issues. The donation was made in commemorating the International Day of a Girl Child falls on October 11 every year and this year the day was commemorated under the theme ‘My Voice, Our Equal Future’.