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21,000 washable sanitary pads distributed to 3,500 girls in rural Tanzania!

There’s an equal number of girls and boys enrolled and attending So They Can supported schools in Tanzania. In large part, that’s thanks to our Keeping Girls in School (KGIS) project that addresses the cultural, social and economic barriers that persist around girls’ education. Period poverty —  inadequate menstrual products, hygiene facilities, waste management, and education — is one of the main culprits.

In schools girls’ lack of access to sanitary pads accounted for 20% of monthly absenteeism
(So They Can Tanzania Program Evaluation 2019-2021).

To date we have distributed 3,500 NIA Dignity packs. Each pack includes 6 reusable sanitary pads, underwear and cleaning products. 5 Champion Mothers have been trained by So They Can in the use of sewing machines and pad production.

‘I feel very grateful, and comforted, to be a Champion who makes pads because I know that they help girls to attend school  every day, and work towards achieving their dreams. Also, this opportunity to work enables me to be financially independent and manage my life.’

Subira, Champion Mother.

Through KGIS we also reach students, teachers, parents and community leaders to challenge harmful cultural norms and practices through the dissemination of Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) information, awareness on the importance of girls education, teacher training on gender responsive pedagogy and the establishment of Safe Schools, as well as support for income generating activities.

Girls attendance has increased by 23 percentage points, and girls’ transition rate to secondary school has increased by 7 percentage points  from our Keeping Girls in School project.

Ms Gidu, a teacher at Hallu Primary School recalls that in the past the girls in her class would have to request permission to leave class and return home during their menstrual cycle. Jenipher was one such student:

Before I was using a kanga [a cotton piece of cloth] during my period. Because I had to change it throughout the day and there were no facilities in the school’s bathroom for that, I was missing 2-3 days a month of school’.

The washable sanitary pads that Jenipher received through KGIS has ensured that she no longer misses school, and has given her the comfort, and confidence.

Encouraged by the KGIS project, Jenipher also joined the KGIS Club at her school. Students in the club meet once a week to learn about menstrual hygiene, SRHR, and to encourage one another to study hard. Jenipher is concerned about Female Genital Cutting (also known as Female Genital Mutilation / FGM) being secretly carried out in her community, most recently to infants, and as a student leader she is determined to spread awareness in her community.

I am so thankful that my daughter no longer misses school. I can see that her self-esteem has improved, and she is happy.’

Regina, Jenipher’s mum, has seen the difference in her 14-year old daughter.

The community awareness activities and sensitisation through the school, has also been transformative for Regina. ‘Through the parents’ training from Ms Gidu I learnt about FGM and really understood the effects of the practice on our children. It completely changed my view. I no longer support the practice of FGM and I will keep my children safe from the practice. I felt strongly about spreading the message in our community, so I shared what I learnt with both students and parents during the  Parents’ Session at the school.’


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