UNESCO estimates that one in 10 girls in Africa misses one to 4 days of school per month, making this one of the highest contributors to girls dropping out of education all together.The reason is because menstruation is still considered a taboo. To protect the ‘minds’ of adolescent girls, some parents prefer not to talk about this “taboo”. Meanwhile, menstruation is an integral aspect of comprehensive sexual education for young people included in curriculum. Unfortunately, it is not the case in Cameroon. Due to the damaging taboo surrounding menstruation in Cameroon, many girls struggle monthly to manage their periods. The lack of access to sanitary pads has forced most young girls to use unhygienic cloth and often skip school during their periods.
It is against this backdrop that the British High Commission Yaounde commissioned a project with Girls Excel – a social impact organisation committed to empowering the girl child to address menstrual hygiene challenges in Cameroon within the framework of a six-month project called ‘Menstrual Hygiene Campaign in Schools’. The campaign sets out to raise awareness about menstrual hygiene management in four regions in Cameroon by training 48 peer educators.
So far, 48 peer educators have been trained on making reusable sanitary pads, which are washable, eco-friendly and sustainable as they are made with local materials. Girls-led clubs have also been created in schools where girls themselves can replicate the solutions to their peers, create a safe space where girls can freely talk about issues affecting their bodies and ask questions without fear or shame. The girls have also been trained on how to count their menstrual cycle by making menstrual beads or bracelets – a set of locally made beads that can help educate girls about their menstrual cycle by studying different colours and numbers of beads.
The Menstrual Hygiene Campaign by Girls Excel in schools falls within the framework of the FCO’s “Leave No Girl Behind” campaign which ensures that no woman or girl misses her education for any reason.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of British High Commission – Yaounde.