#HappyFlow Monday: What are you doing to advance MHM in your community for the girl child?

This week, for #HappyFlow Monday, we asked network members the following question:

What are you doing to advance MHM in your community for the girl child?

Find their answers below! If you would like to advance MHM for all in Africa, sign the petition!

Kyohairwe Pamella Favoured – Uganda

To advance Menstrual Hygiene Management, I’m breaking the silence and creating awareness on the false beliefs and norms against menstruation through sensitisations and trainings on the role that good MHM plays in reaching a girl’s full potential, because of menstruation some girls drop out of school mainly because they can not afford the embarrassment of a stain. By making menstruation manageable with practical trainings on low cost reusable pads and dealing with menstrual related illnesses we can help girls realise their full potential.

Ammon Allen Otieno #Kenya

In Kenya, menstrual health management is an issue that demands urgent attention. Just last month (September), a 14-Years-Old class 6 pupil committed suicide after a female teacher said she was dirty for soiling her dress in class. After she came home, her mother told her to go and fetch water to clean herself then head back to school. She would later be found to have completed suicide.
This is just one case that caught national attention, how many cases go unnoticed or even noticed but not reported? How many girls, like her, are tormented inwardly, and their dignity and self-worth ripped from them by the society? Is it a crime to go through a ‘Normal process of life’?
Girls still face monthly challenges, with about 65% of women and girls in Kenya unable to afford sanitary pads. In June 2019, the Kenyan president signed a bill into law for the government to provide free, sufficient, and quality sanitary towels, and sound mechanism for disposal to reduce absenteeism during menstrual cycle. However, in August, the education Cabinet Secretary raised concerns that school girls do not receive free sanitary towels despite the government allocating millions to support the program.
Therefore, with the support of Women Deliver, we are implementing a policy advocacy project on SRH commodity access and financing; where among many other things, we advocate for the government to set aside and ring-fence SRHR budget allocation to ensure that girls receive these basic SRH commodities.
We do media advocacy both to build support and educate masses on menstrual health management. With support from LINDA Kenya, we conduct outreach programs both in schools and communities; the program includes a digital platform – USSD system, where girls can reach us with questions and/or concerns about SRHR, including MHM.

Angeline Makore – Zimbabwe

Its a bloody Period! The topic of periods is the one that fascinates me a lot but at the same time making my heart bleed. Why do I say so, menstruation is an issue often forgotten and usually swept under the carpert not to be openly discussed and yet an issue so critical and is interlinked with all soco-economic challenges thus, from education to early forced marriages, to health and well-being even going down to poverty. Usually when I talk about menstruation my emphasis is on financing and sustainability of programs and products for menstrual hygiene management of girls in their pubescence and onwards. A lot of sanitary pad drives are being done in Sub-Saharan Africa and kudos to all the advocates behind the scenes. However it is high time we look at greener, unharmful products that sustainability helps girls and women to manage their menstruation. Period talk is also fundamental for adolescents to know all the gist about the onset of bleeding and ways to go about it. National and international budgeting must also focus on ending period poverty henceforth, grassroots companies and local cooperates should also chip in on menstrual hygiene management financing.

Be that as it may, through my organization we carryout menstrual hygiene management sessions with both boys and girls in trying to demystify menstruation taboos,I also run a social enterprise that produces both reusable and disposable sanitary pads that are less harsh to the environment. As a menstruation taboo buster I work with communities and various stakeholder towards a goal where every woman and girl experience their period in dignified and healthier means. During my spare time I also blog about the health and wellbeing of girls in Africa including menstruation issues.

Wankumbu Simukonda – Zambia

I am 3rd year media and communication studies student at the University of Zambia, a member of UNZA response (A team of peer educators). As a media student and advocate for Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights, I take keen interest in Menstrual hygiene management in my country knowing for a fact that menstruation is not an option for the girls in my community and the rural parts of the country.
Apart from doing radio sensitizations on Menstrual hygiene. Working together with my fellow peer, we source for sanitary towels which we in turn do donate to orphanages that we identify. This is because not every girl in my community has access sanitary towels due to the fact that the pads are not fairly affordable.
On campus I am engaging the student Union to look into Menstrual waste disposal which remains a challenge even in our communities.
I am must be quick to mention that I am pleased to learn that our government unanimously approved the motion to provide sanitary towels to girls in public schools. My main concern is to see this policy implemented in the soonest possible time.