Every month girls are faced with missing school for at least five days due to menstruation because they lack sanitary pads or are laughed at by boys and others. When these girls have gone to their monthly menstruation, they face the challenge of being deprived their right to get sanitary pads.
When interviewing one of the girls who wants to remain anonymous she said the main challenge is that most parents do not regard sanitary pads as one of basic needs.
She added that as a result, during their periods, they miss classes hence depriving them from their right to education. “The problem of parents not buying sanitary pads is worse when girls stay with their brothers and fathers. They feel ashamed of asking for money to buy sanitary pads because the word menstruation is taboo in Basotho culture” she added.
Having realized these challenges Lesotho Red Cross and UNFPA saw the need to assist at least 2500 adolescent girls with menstrual hygiene kits.
The Project is implemented in five districts of Maseru, Mafeteng, Mohale’sHoek, Mokhotlong and Quthing. It is funded by the Central Emergency Relieve Fund (CERF) through UNFPA Lesotho to tune of M1.4 Million.
It is of good importance to note that the project was launched by Her Royal Highness Princess Senate Mohato Seeiso, on the 23rd August 2020, at the Royal Palace.
The beneficiaries were identified after a rapid assessment was done in 66 villages where 9977 people and 282 people with disabilities were reached. During the assessment, the community identified the households that had girls and were struggling to make ends meet.
Maseru Red Cross Divisional Secretary Ms. Mabulara Motlomelo indicated that during these gatherings, both parents and children were taught on Gender based violence, (GBV) Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) as well as HIV and AIDS. Mabulara Further indicated that it came to realization of partnering organizations that there was a need to address the communities on the above-mentioned issues, so they also are well informed.
She further indicated that it was discovered during these gathering that most girls miss classes when they have gone to their periods due to stigmatization. She added that parents did not consider buying menstrual hygiene materials for their girls which forced them to miss school while they were on their periods.
“Menstrual hygiene management does not only encompass use of sanitary pads, but also soap and clean water to bath. These materials will result into girls having their safe and dignified periods”, Motlomelo said.
On one hand, due to lack of understanding of boys and some members of the society girls are stigmatized during their periods forcing them to hide away and miss school,” Motlomelo revealed.
One of beneficiaries’ Ms. Maseabata Mathaha (17) of Lefikeng ha Mokhele in Mohale’s Hoek stated that these gatherings have been important since both men and boys understood why girls menstruate monthly and that it is a natural phenomenon that cannot be avoided.
“I believe that instead of being mocked when we are on our periods, we would be supported,” she uttered.
“These kits will boost our confidence as they will make us feel comfortable during our times of periods,” Mathaha added.
The girls, parents and boys thanked Lesotho Red Cross Society for explaining to them the topic which was regarded taboo in their communities.
On the other hand, one of parents indicated that they were shy to speak about menstruation to their daughters because they were taught not to talk about it by their parents. “we were just told that you have to hide from other people and never play with boys”, she added.
The parents, especially the mothers promised that things will change from then forward and they will support their girls with all they can.
The Society’s Health and Social Services Coordinator Ms. Moluoane Ramakhula indicated that the project is targeting the districts which have been classified under integrated phase classification (IPC).
The aim of the project is to prevent and respond to Gender-Based Violence in drought affected communities. These are Maseru, Mafeteng, Mohale’s Hoek, Quthing and Mokhotlong.