Erasing stigma surrounding topics of female hygiene to empower girls and help them reach their full academic potential.
Though all residents face WASH issues, it is necessary to look at the situation through the lens of gender. In Tanzania, female hygiene has traditionally been a taboo subject, and most schools lack adequate facilities for young women. Without access to proper sanitary materials and fearing ridicule for bloodstains on their skirts, many girls miss school during menstruation. Lower attendance rates severely limit academic potential and contribute to a cycle of disempowerment.
Female Hygiene Groups
Young women, ages 11-18, meet with CHEs in after-school groups to learn about female hygiene, health, and puberty. All groups, as well as girls from surrounding communities, are also invited to attend Saturday meetings at the MSG office. Meetings provide young women with a safe space to:
learn about female health,
seek advice, and
engage in peer-to-peer education.
Participants also receive donated sustainable sanitary products from Lunapads’ One4Her Program to promote proper hygiene and prevent absences from school.
Dining for Female Hygiene
Several times a year, participants and female guardians (mothers, grandmothers, and aunts) meet for a large communal meal. During the event:
female health is discussed,
questions about female hygiene are answered,
new members are welcomed, and
girls showcase their new knowledge via songs and skits.
Group leaders and participants host an annual Decent Girl competition. The entire community is invited to attend to learn about female health issues via songs, dances, and skits. Prominent community members judge the event and select a winner based on her ability to teach peers and the community about:
menstrual hygiene, and
The winner of the Decent Girl competition is honored and awarded school supplies and feminine products. The Decent Girl competition, dinners, and group meetings instill confidence in young women and promote understanding throughout the community. Now, topics of female health are becoming less stigmatized in Shirati, and girls are realizing their full potential as students and young leaders.