Uganda Red Cross, Randal Charitable Foundation partner to launch pad manufacturing plant

In a bid to combat poverty but also promote sanitation, Uganda Red Cross has in partnership with Randal Charitable Foundation launched a sanitary pad plant in Mukono that will manufacture 200,000 reusable sanitary pads.

The Keep a Girl In School (KAGIS) plant will directly help tackle missed educational opportunities for girls, who may miss 18% of the academic year, because of poor sanitary protection during their period.

It will also create locally based, skilled employment opportunities for vulnerable girls and women who will be trained to make and market the pads and ensure the long-term sustainability of the facility.

“For many women and girls, poor access to high quality sanitary pads, as well as to toilets and washrooms, is a huge barrier to attending school and can result in seriously limiting future career choices. The Randal Foundation is passionate about enabling every young person to reach their full potential, and equal access to education for girls and boys is an essential part of this. We are also huge advocates of supporting communities out of poverty by creating long-term sustainable economic opportunities and employment,” said Dr. Nik Kotecha, the founder and chairman of the Randal Charitable Foundation.

“This ground-breaking partnership with the Uganda Red Cross Society will help secure a future free from period poverty for tens of thousands of women and girls each year. It’s truly humbling to meet women and girls who will benefit from the wide-ranging outcomes from our manufacturing enterprise here today, from locally based jobs, to training and of course, high quality sanitary protection. The powerful combination of practically tackling the serious issue of period poverty for young girls, and unleashing their future potential – alongside local job creation - is why we were passionate to invest, to make this project a reality.”

According to Rachael McCormack, the Chief Operating Officer for the Randal Foundation, the plant will help support the training and up-skilling of women and girls to make and sell the sanitary pads, and in transferrable business skills as diverse as business administration and marketing.

“This facility is especially close to our hearts because of our unwavering vision to directly save lives, and

significantly improve the quality of life for those in need in the UK and around the world. Period poverty is a global problem. Our community-based social enterprise, creating high quality, accessible sanitary protection, together with the URCS, will help to tackle this, here in Uganda,” McCormack said.

“Missing school has a lasting, adverse impact, often meaning that girls go on to miss out on employment and other opportunities throughout life. We hope our project will ensure more women can complete their education and be able to make life choices which mean they can fulfil their true potential.”

Each year, around 20% of the 200,000 pads will be given to 10,000 vulnerable girls in- school, free of charge and the  remaining 80% will be sold in the wider community at a subsidised price, which will ensure the long-term viability of the manufacturing facility.

“Keep A Girl in School is a menstrual health management initiative spearheaded by the Ministry of Education and Sports and launched in 2019, which highlights that girls are missing school because of lack of sanitary pads to use during their monthly cycle. We would like to thank the Randal Charitable Foundation for their significant support towards the setting up of a manufacturing plant in Uganda which is aimed at keeping more girls in school through manufacturing and provision of re-usable pads. Over the next 3 years, URCS is scaling up production of re-usable pads to reach up to 100,000 – 150,000 women and girls in Uganda,” said Robert Kwesiga, the Secretary General of Uganda Red Cross Society.

He asked more partners both private and public to support the initiative to help vulnerable girls stay in school.

The Director Basic and Secondary Education in the Ministry of Education and Sports, Ismael Mulindwa  hailed Red Cross and Randal Charitable Foundation for the initiative that will not only keep girls in schools but also promote sanitation.

“As a result of a lack of access to hygienic sanitary wear, girls and women in the community often resort to using inappropriate materials such as rugs torn from their old clothes, papers, pieces of old mattress foam and leaves. In rural communities, they become house bound, and are forced to sit over a hole dug in the middle of their mud floors until the menstrual flow ends. School going girls who get blood on their clothes are also often teased by teachers, boys, or other girls, and this has been reported as a significant cause of school dropouts for girls,” Mulindwa said.

He noted that the plant will directly help  tackle missed educational opportunities for girls, who may miss 18% of the academic year, because of poor sanitary protection during their menstrual cycle.

During this project, Uganda Red Cross is also partnering with She for She, an indigenous organization whose goal is to ensure that every young girl can attend school by improving access to pads and by providing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights education.

She for She has experience in training community groups to sew pads and partnering with established local organisations to provide education and dialogue on menstruation and related menstrual hygiene management.

While the first set of materials will be imported, Red Cross will advocate for in-country factories to start producing the materials locally.

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