Puberty is a time of change for all young people, but it is particularly challenging for girls who are often unprepared for changes in their body, which can become a major obstacle to their education. In some parts of the world, two out of three girls reported having no idea of what was happening to them when they began menstruating.
This can have many negative effects on their physical and emotional development, leading to a drop in self-esteem and poor performance at school. According to a study in Ghana, 95% of girls reported sometimes missing school due to menstruation; and research in Ethiopia showed that 39% of girls reported reduced performance at school for the same reason. Often the lack of adequate toilet facilities at school, combined with fear and embarrassment further contribute to their disengagement from education at this crucial time in their lives.
Asante Africa Foundation's girls' club Wezesha Vijana Project was mentioned as a good practice in health education at launch of UNESCO's "Puberty Education & Menstrual Hygiene Management" at United Nations Commission on the Status of Women meetings.
(our project is discussed on p. 26)
The Wezesha Vijana Initiative
addresses the “keeping girls in school” gap. The program incorporates fundamental sanitation needs (i.e., toilets with running water and hand washing stations) with life skills sessions on topics such as reproductive health and hygiene. Wezesha Vijana uniquely targets girls through tailored workshops that educate, empower and elevate their attendance and retention in school.
The year-long pilot resulted in changed perspectives for over 250 girls who participated. Five of the six participating schools are now establishing girls’ leadership training workshops to continue to cultivate peer support and hope.
We were honored to be included in such a prestigious publication, and to participate on the panels discussing these issues. You can watch portions of the archived video from that panel below
(click image to see full infographic)