Healthier Lives

Core Pathway : Healthier lives
Sub-pathways : Community Empowerment
Location : Mzimba
Status : Active

For many girls in rural Malawi, sexual and reproductive health education is non-existent. Girls often learn about menstruation from a family member such as the mother or aunt. Unfortunately, these women, often lack detailed information about how the body works and are unable to explain to girls why their bodies change during puberty. Consequently, some girls are advised to skip school and other activities while menstruating. Meanwhile, sanitary napkins are expensive and occasionally difficult to find. As a result, girls use rags to catch the blood or in an attempt to save the money, they use sanitary napkins they find for an extended period of time, leading to infection.

This is the dynamic #DemystifyingPeriods is targeting in 4 schools in Mzimba District in Malawi. Girls between the ages of 15 and 19 are being educated about menstruation, puberty, sex and hygiene. They are also being given reusable pads and instructions on how to use them.

After the training, girls return to their communities where they share the information they learned to other women and girls in their respective villages. The idea is to empower them to educate others, breaking the silence that leads to ignorance and misinformation.

At the moment, the project is buying reusable pads and providing them depending on availability of resources. Going forward, we would like to facilitate formation of micro enterprises that will be run by mother groups who will be making reusable sanitary pads and sell to girls in the community at a lower price as compared to what is available on the market making sanitary pads available sustainably.

The project aims at increasing access to sexual reproductive health information amongst adolescents’ girls and young women, more specifically on menstrual hygiene management by training adolescent girls aged 15 and 19 but also conducting advocacy will local leadership and boys so everyone gets to look at menstruation as normal and part of girl’s life. That way girls are provided with a conducive environment for them to develop.