Janet Museveni Faces Criticism over Sanitary Pads

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In short
Flavia Kalule Nabagabe, an activist with Young African Leaders Initiative YALI Ugandan Chapter says the young people feel let down by the President and the Minister of Education.

Education Minister Janet Kataaha Museveni is facing criticism over government's failure to provide sanitary towels to schools. The provision was in line with campaign pledges made by President Yoweri Museveni in the run up to the 2016 general elections.

But Mrs Museveni recently told the parliamentary committee on education that funding for the purchase of sanitary towels was not available. A packet of quality sanitary towels go for about four thousand Shillings.

Women rights activists are however angry that Mrs Museveni for failing to task her husband to keep the campaign promise.

Flavia Kalule Nabagabe, an activist with Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Ugandan Chapter says the young people feel let down by the President and the Minister of Education. She says that the pledge by the President raised hope for thousands of school-going girls who are forced to stay away from school because they cannot afford sanitary towels.
 
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Referring to a study of menstrual management by SNV in Uganda, Nabagabe says that without the sanitary towels, girls in rural areas will continue missing up to eight days of study each school term because of the monthly menses.
 
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The SNV study found failure by girls to attend class for eight days on average translates into 11 percent of the total learning days in a year.

Ida Horner, the founder of 'Let Them Help Themselves, an international aid organisation promoting sanitation and sanitary towels in South Western Uganda, said the decision not to fund sanitary towels was regrettable.  She says her organization visited 12 schools and spoke with 1,175 girls as well as some of their teachers.  She said the finding from the 12 schools were stunning.
 
Horner says 53 percent of the girls didn't know what menstruation was before they experienced it and that 61 percent of the girls have felt ashamed or embarrassed due to their periods.

Forty-two percent of the girls interviewed missed 2.6 days of school during their periods because they don't have access to sanitary products which impacts negatively in their performance. She says 73 percent of the students used reusable pads but on average they changed them every 9 hours which was not hygienic or healthy.

Nabagabe and other activists say the government should make budgetary re-allocations in order to avail the sanitary towels to schools. The demand comes at the time when most of the Ministries including that of education are facing 10 percent budgetary cuts.