INTERNATIONAL WOMENS DAY: WE'RE TALKING PERIODS
Myth 1: Once a girl gets her period she should drop out of school and get married.
Myth 2: Sanitary pads can cause infertility.
Myth 3: When a girl gets her period it means she has started having sex. “If I had told my aunty at that time, she would say I have started sleeping around with men.” – program participant.
Myth 4: When girls get their periods they are now mature and ready to have sex or to become lovers.
March 2018 //Australian not-for-profit, One Girl has today released a report which reveals the shocking myths about menstruation that are holding girls back. The report assesses the impact of One Girl’s LaunchPad program, which educates women and girls about safe periods and their sexual and reproductive health and rights.
You couldn’t imagine telling your daughter at age 12 she can no longer attend school because she got her period. That she is now ready for sex, and her primary reason for being is to reproduce?! But new research from One Girl suggests these myths are gradually being overcome by the One Girl LaunchPad program, which is committed to paving the way for gender equality in Sierra Leone.
Access to safe and dignified periods is essential to keeping girls in school (only 16% of girls in Sierra Leone complete high school vs 92% here in Australia – ABS) and achieving gender equality.
Our program is working with both women and men to increase knowledge of menstruation and reproductive health, and it’s working:
- 85% of LaunchPad group members (who sell pads subsidised by One Girl) had at some point sold pads to men, suggesting a broader shift in community attitudes around who is aware of, responsible for and involved in menstrual hygiene management.
- “Before when we were using the pieces [pieces of old cloth and rags eg] it gives us wounds and rashes and infection, but now when we are using the pads we are okay and free.”
– Program participant. One Girl CEO, Sarah Ireland says,”The research shows that our program is giving women access to affordable sanitary products, educating whole communities and allowing women to take their power back by economically empowering them.”
“This gives them new confidence and reduces feelings of shame in their relationships and in their communities around menstruation.” With this training, and with access to products, there is no reason why a girl would need to drop out of school to cope with their period. Educating girls is one of the most powerful forces for change in the world (Bill and Melinda Gates Annual Letter 2019) and is also the most effective way to combat climate change globally (Drawdown project 2018).
One Girl is raising funds in the lead up to International Women’s Day to support this program and others that tackle the barriers girls face to education.
WE HAVE A PROBLEM ON OUR HANDS…
• Over 130 million girls around the world are denied an education simply because they were born a girl.
• Sierra Leone and Uganda are two of the most challenging places in the world to be born a girl: almost 50% of female youth in Sierra Leone are illiterate, up to 40% of girls in Sierra Leone and Uganda are forced into child marriage and 3 in 5 girls in Sierra Leone don’t attend school.
• Worldwide, 14 million girls under the age of 18 will be forced into marriage this year. That’s 38,000 today or 13 girls in the last 30 seconds.
• In sub-saharan Africa only 1 in 5 girls will make it to high school.
• A girl born in Sierra Leone is more likely to be sexually assaulted than she is to attend high school.
BUT WE HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE IT!
• For every year a girl stays in school, her income will increase by 10-25%
• An educated woman’s children are 50% more likely to live past the age of five.
• An educated girl will marry when she’s ready and have a smaller, healthier family.
• For every dollar she earns, she will invest 90% of it back into her family.
For more more information or to request an interview, contact One Girl Communications Director, Méabh Friel on 03 9913 4818 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
About One Girl:
One Girl is an Australian not-for-profit organisation dedicated to supporting girls without access to education in two of the worst places in the world to be born a girl: Uganda and Sierra Leone. One Girl raises funds and awareness through national campaigns like Do It In A Dress to provide thousands of girls and young women with access to education.
Since 2009, One Girl has worked with well-established local organisations to reach more than 32,000 women and girls with access to high-quality education programs.
About Do It In A Dress
Do It In A Dress is an annual fundraising campaign organised by Australian not-for-profit, One Girl.
Do It In A Dress is about putting on a school dress, having some fun, and standing up for every girl’s right to an education. Through this campaign, participants raise money to support One Girl’s education programs in Sierra Leone and Uganda. To date, Do It In A Dress has successfully raised over $2.8 million dollars, which has helped changed the lives of girls across Sierra Leone and Uganda.