Girls Empowerment Project
www.janegoodall.org.au The Girls Empowerment project has been operating in schools throughout Western Uganda since 2008. It aims to increase girls’ access to education, knowledge about sexual and reproductive health (particularly menstrual management and HIV/AIDS), and general soft (life) skills. In addition to training teachers and students as peer educators, and outreach to parents and other community members, distributing commercially produced menstrual hygiene kits has been a key activity of the program. However, a recent program review showed training girls and women to make their own reusable sanitary pads to be a better form of support than the provisioning of ready made kits. Not only is it more cost effective operationally, it alleviates the need for girls and women to purchase menstrual products and simultaneously builds their capacity to generate income long into the future. Once trained the participants can sell the pads they produce at lower prices than commercially produced alternatives, thus the economic benefit extends to the greater community. Additionally, local production of these items has a reduced ecological footprint compared to the production, procurement, and distribution of the kits currently used. Presently this activity is operating in only a few schools, however we aim to expand it progressively until it eventually replaces the provisioning of menstrual kits entirely. Targets for the next expansion phase are training 80 girls aged 9-15 years and 40 teachers from 40 schools. Participants will then go on to train their peers, family, and community members, further facilitating the activity’s reach and impact.