Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises education as a universal basic right for all humans.
Goals 4 and 5 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals also reaffirm the belief that education is one of the most powerful and proven vehicles for sustainable development. The education of girls in the developing world is vital because female school achievement is believed to have long lasting and far reaching effects.
However; for many girls their monthly period means that they are not able to access the education that is their basic human right.
‘There are multiple factors that work against girls’ education in The Gambia. Lack of sanitary products means that on average girls miss 48 days of school a year during their periods. In a typical poor Gambian family where there is not enough money to buy food, shelter and other basic needs sanitary products are not a priority. Many girls are forced to use paper, leaves or old bits of cloth. 1 in 10 girls miss school due to lack of sanitary products or sanitation facilities in schools. We believe that all girls deserve the right to adequate sanitary products.’ Janet Mansell – Gambian Teachers’ Union
Project Gambia is therefore seeking to address this issue. Working alongside other partners our aim is to help reverse the negative trend of girl’s education in The Gambia and remove many of the taboos and stigmas around menstruation.
Working in partnership with Intouch Global Foundation, The Steve Sinnott Foundation and The Gambia Teachers’ Union, Project Gambia Trust seeks to address this issue and help reverse the gender disparity experienced by girls in The Gambia. Our aim is to provide sanitary packs for the communities we work in and deliver training sessions for both women and men which teach them how to make reusable sanitary pads. Alongside this we will also provide health and sexual education. The model we will use to roll out the programme is currently being finalised but the following 3 principles have been agreed by all partners.
1. Sustainability: Although we will be donating some reusable sanitary pads wherever possible we will train both women and men to make the reusable pads themselves using locally sourced material.
2. Educational: Many girls have told us that when they had their first period they were scared and thought they were bleeding to death. Working with schools and communities we will education them about menstruation, what is it and what to expect.
3. Environmentally friendly: The sanitary products we produce will be reusable and environmentally friendly.
We are currently trialling the work with some of the ladies in the Kotusilo community. In February Project Give Wolverhampton, delivered an education session to these ladies and gave them all a pack of reusable pads which they are testing out for us. In addition to this ‘Free the Flow York’ have also been supporting our work by providing disposable sanitary pads while the project is being developed; with a view to supporting us long term with reusable pads. If you would like to know more about this work, support us or are able to sew reusable pads and small sanitary bags then please contact Bev Hodt: firstname.lastname@example.org
“Lack of access to sanitary towels for girls and women means no school, no work for women, no leaving home, no friends, no joy, no hope etc.”
“School absenteeism is a major risk factor to the education of girls in The Gambia.”
“A girl child with lack of access to menstrual products faces emotional and psychological stress.”
“Menstruation adds to the collection of reasons for gender disparity experienced by girls in the Gambia.”
Gambian Teachers’ Union