Parents, teachers urged to promote open discussion on menstrual health

Parents and teachers are encouraged to engage in open discussions about menstrual-related topics with young adolescents, promoting a supportive environment for girls.

In light of this, Zulaika Naiga, the Commissioner at the Ministry of Education and Sports, highlighted the importance of girls staying in school and dispelling the stigma surrounding menstruation. She discouraged girls from using money meant for purchasing pads to instead opt for toilet paper.

Expressing gratitude to teachers and school administrators, Naiga acknowledged their role in supporting girls and emphasised the need for free and open discussions about menstruation with young adolescents to prevent misinformation from peers.

These remarks were made during her address at the 2023 edition of the Solooza Always campaign, an initiative aimed at empowering and educating young girls about menstrual care and hygiene.

"Once, menstruation was associated with shame and girls often missed school. Now, thanks to the change in perception and the support girls receive from their peers, it's heartening to see girls remaining in school," she emphasized.

Twaha Kakaire, the Project Manager for Solooza Always, highlighted the substantial achievements of this year's edition.

He mentioned that the campaign had been warmly embraced by schools and students, becoming increasingly popular in Uganda for promoting menstrual care and enabling girls to face their menstrual challenges with confidence.

The nationwide campaign aims to address challenges related to menstrual hygiene, keeping girls in school, and reducing the stigma surrounding menstruation.

The Solooza Always campaign, which concluded its 2023 edition, has made significant strides in addressing challenges related to menstrual hygiene, reducing stigma, and promoting girls' education, according to the officials.

The program, initiated by Always, a global brand of sanitary pads, aims to ensure that no girl misses school due to her period. It was piloted in May 2019 and officially launched in January 2022, with subsequent editions in January and September 2023.

Solooza Always encourages secondary school girls to attend classes during their periods by collecting empty packs of Always pads in participating schools.

This initiative drives positive behaviour change, improves menstrual care, and promotes environmental protection.

The primary goal is to enhance girls' chances of success by addressing the barriers associated with menstrual care in relation to education. After one month, participants are rewarded with scholarships, laptops, and a year's supply of Always pads. The program benefits both male and female students, as well as schools.

During the program, trained agents from Always engage in vital menstrual dialogues with students, addressing technical and social aspects of menstrual care. Boys are included in these discussions to combat the stigma often associated with menstruation. The rewards for participation are intentionally designed to promote girl education, including scholarships, laptops, and pads.

Since its inception, Solooza Always has witnessed a surge in popularity, attracting thousands of girls across the country. The most recent edition saw 109,850 girls from 835 schools participating nationwide, with significant growth in school and student participation compared to previous editions.

The program has proven successful in empowering girls during their transition into young adulthood, providing them with essential knowledge for managing their periods in society. Senior women teachers have played a crucial role in facilitating these conversations and ensuring their impact on the girls.

Awuko Mary, a student at Luzira Secondary School, shared her positive experience with Solooza Always, stating that the rewards she received enabled her to cover her tuition and school expenses for an entire year. This support allowed her to focus on her academics as a candidate.

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