By Kampala Post Reporter
ENTEBBE. The First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports Mrs. Janet Museveni and Goodwill Ambassadors of the Uganda Red Cross Society have met and exchanged views on strategies of promoting good menstrual hygiene management especially for adolescent girls.
The First Lady met a team of Uganda Red Cross Goodwill Ambassadors led by Mrs. Bernadette Katureebe wife of the Chief Justice of Uganda who called on her at State House Entebbe on Wednesday. Others included Natasha Karugire, Cecilia Lwanga, Crystal Newman and Robert Kwesiga the Secretary General of Uganda Red Cross Society plus Rosette Nanyanzi from the Ministry of Education and Sports’ Gender Unit.
The First Lady observed that Menstrual Hygiene Management is a national problem which needs concerted efforts of various stakeholders including the parents to support the adolescent girls handle their menstrual cycle with dignity.
She said that the Ministry of Education and Sports is exploring ways of partnering with other stakeholders to enable sustainable production of sanitary towels from locally available materials for distribution to girls in schools. She added that the provision of sanitary towels is critical to their retention in schools.
Government of Uganda in the 2nd National Development Plan (2016/17 – 2019/20) committed to support Menstrual Hygiene Management including supply of sanitary towels among girls in primary and secondary schools, but which the Budget has not yet been able to cover.
Mrs. Museveni told the Uganda Red Cross Ambassadors that the Ministry entered into partnership with the Uganda Women Efforts to Save Orphans (UWESO) to produce sanitary towels. An Indian firm, the SAMTA Foundation has offered to donate a Sanitary towel- making machine to UWESO, initial raw materials (cotton) and training in the production of the sanitary towels. The machine is expected to be in Uganda in October this year.
She said it would be good to hold hands with the Uganda Red Cross Society to ensure sustainable large-scale production of sanitary towels and distribution to girls in schools across the country.
She however said she was skeptical about the re-usable pads because the hygiene is not assured. “I hope we can produce sanitary towels that are decent and we can be proud of,” she said.
The Secretary General Uganda Red Cross Society Robert Kwesiga said that menstrual hygiene is a big agenda of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.
He said that Uganda Red Cross Society in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Sports, Ministry of Health and other stakeholders plans to launch an initiative “Bring a Smile to Her” aimed at improving menstrual hygiene management among primary and secondary school going adolescents and young women. They are considering that this initiative be piloted in 4 districts namely Mayuge, Buliisa, Mbale and Kampala.
Mrs. Bernadette Katureebe said that Uganda Red Cross Society with its nationwide network commits to rally all stakeholders and the general public towards this cause to address the issue of girl child school dropout due to lack of hygienic menstrual supplies and facilities.
The Red Cross Goodwill Ambassadors pledged to support the Ministry of Education and Sports in the key functions of advocacy, coordination and resource mobilization for menstrual hygiene management because it is a vital issue in the life of adolescent girls and development.