It is a widespread but sometimes unacknowledged problem that girls in Africa miss school and stay at home because of menstruation. Join our Dignity program and help us help them, by sewing “Sani-panties”distributed through Little Dresses for Africa. Include new package panties when you can!
According to UNICEF, one in ten schoolgirls in Africa miss classes or drop out completely due to their period, and substitute pads or tampons for less safe and less absorbent materials such as rags, newspaper or bark.
There are many aspects that link girls’ attendance rates to their menstrual cycles. Firstly, the lack of affordable sanitary products and facilities for girls and women keeps them at a disadvantage in terms of education when they are young and prevents their mobility and productivity as women. Secondly, the lack of clean and healthy sanitation such as toilets and running water means that girls often do not have anywhere to change or dispose of pads safely and in privacy at school. Thirdly, the taboo nature of menstruation prevents girls and their communities from talking about and addressing the problem; raising awareness and education to eliminate the stigma of menstruation is a large part of the battle.
UNICEF reports that “in countries where menstrual hygiene is taboo, girls in puberty are typically absent for 20% of the school year”. Most girls drop out at around 11 to 12-years-old, and miss school not simply because they fear being teased by their classmates if they show stains from their period, but also because they are not educated about their periods, and their need for safe and clean facilities is not prioritized. The idea that monthly bleeding is something shameful, polluting, or taboo may also encourage girls to avoid social contact during their period. Additionally, the cultural implications of menstruation as a stage in a woman’s development may be used to take girls out of school – the idea being that if a girl is ready for motherhood, then she is ready for marriage.
Menstruation is a reason for dropping out that can be added to the potential threat of sexual harassment from male teachers as girls develop. In either case, the result is girls lagging behind with schoolwork and performing badly. We have delivered these personal items to the women and young girls and they are received with joy! This is a simple and very necessary project. We’d love to have your help! We will be sending these as well as adult sized panties to the girls in Africa as part of our health education.
Little Dresses for Africa has seen the need among the young girls and women and encouraged our sewers to take part in sewing and sending what we call “sani-panties”. Improvements in sanitation can go a long way to combating the problem. The distribution of these washable pads along with adult sized panties lead to very helpful discussions surrounding their use and general health. The resulting good hygiene enables the girls to manage their periods more easily. Thank you for joining us in this life-changing project.SANI PANI PICTURE
The project consists of a simple 9″ x 4″ rectangular pads of absorbant material.
Some put “wings” ( shown in the example) with velcro or snaps to wrap around the girls panties.
Either or both are fine. We will also be collecting store bought new adult size panties to distribute along with these coveted items.