For many girls, sanitary pads are too expensive and therefore the alternative they use is either a rag or tissue paper. Since both must be changed very frequently, many girls miss a week of school each month and stay at home so they can easily change. This is a significant amount of education that they’re missing out on and therefore reusable sanitary pads are a good alternative as they’re fairly easy to make, cost-effective and since they’re made of cloth with a plastic lining, they last much longer.
On the 21st of June, Pen to Paper Ghana collaborated with the organisation ACESWorld to run a menstrual hygiene and reusable pad training session for 65 called ‘Pads4Learning’. The programme was hosted for Trede RC primary and JHS students between the ages 12-15.
The day was split into 3 parts, with the first one being the general knowledge of what the menstrual cycle is. This knowledge was imparted by a professional doctor, Dr Heidi. She spoke about how the period is something every girl experiences and therefore should not be afraid of. She guided the students in the stages of how the body changes during that period and the cycle of it, as well as educating the girls on the fact that everyone’s period can be different. With the female sexual organ sketched on the board, she taught the group how the egg develops and travels out in a form of blood when it is not fertilised. This is something that was much needed as none of the girls knew why they menstruate.
Our second stage was led by a general nurse, Miss Benedicta. She taught the girls how to keep themselves clean during their period. She also told them, “there is nothing to be ashamed of when you reach that moment; you should feel free to discuss it with your teachers, parents, peers or any woman about it.”
After having a tasty lunch and the girls having group discussions on their period, we had a midwife who taught the girls how to make reusable sanitary pads. ACESWorld had prepared cloths, towels, needles, cardboard shaped as a pad, scissors, etc., to help them practice how to make pads at the programme. Each girl was able to make a reusable pad in the workshop and she taught them how to wash and how to dry them as well. She noted to them they should have at least one with them anytime they are in school. Since the pads are partially to relieve them financially, they were told to keep track of how much they would save using these reusable pads.
A momentous moment in the programme was when one of the girls started her period whilst the training was being held. With a reusable sanitary pad given, she was able to stay in the workshop and not miss the learning. If this had been training on something else, or a normal school day, she would have left and gone home, missing their entire day of learning.
A survey was conducted by the representative of ACESWorld, Mr. Derrick, who encouraged the girls that they should use these reusable pads since it has many benefits like being environmentally friendly, easy to make and its cost-effectiveness.
Pen to Paper Ghana’s co-founder, Mr. Richard, gave the final words to the girls, saying that this great invention should help the girls stay in school whilst they are on their period. The knowledge they have now been imparted with on how to stay clean will stop them catching infections and getting ill. With all the knowledge absorbed by the students at the gathering, missing school should be something of the past.
Each girl left the workshop with a reusable sanitary pad, as well as extra materials to make another two pads at home. The excitement that the girls had at using the pads is something that greatly encouraged us and we’re sure they will also impart the training to other female friends and family.
In order to ensure the effectiveness of the workshop, we took the attendance records of all the participants and we will be checking their attendance in a few months to hopefully see the improvement. We would like to say a very big thank you to our partner, ACESWorld for working with us to create a much-needed programme.