Empowering Girls for Equal Opportunity

These teen girls in Guatemala don't have to skip school anymore just because it's that time of the month.

Portions of this blog post originally published in Teen Girls No Longer Skip School Thanks to Dignity Kits.

Education plays a vital role in securing a brighter future for vulnerable children, youth, and communities–but especially for young women.

In fact, according to UNICEF, “Girls who receive an education are less likely to marry young and more likely to lead healthy, productive lives. They earn higher incomes, participate in the decisions that most affect them, and build better futures for themselves and their families.”

This is why it’s so tragic that girls and young women who live in some of the hardest places on earth skip several days of school each month.

They aren’t lazy. It’s because they lack the hygiene items necessary to manage their periods with dignity.

But, with the help of generous donors, Food for the Hungry (FH) empowers teen girls like Yekite to stay in school by supplying them with girls’ hygiene kits.

Yekite: Skipping School No More

Yekite found attending school to be an overwhelming challenge before FH entered her community in Ethiopia. She didn’t know how to stay clean and comfortable at school while on her period. Neither did her female classmates. And the results were tangible.

“I missed school days while I was on my period due in fear of discrimination from other students,” she remembers. “I used to be absent many days from school every cycle.”
Yekite is now on track to graduate from secondary school.

These fears also impacted Yekite’s academic performance, and filled her with shame. This is because, where she lives, there are many taboos associated with menstruation. But not long after FH began to partner with her community, Yekite received health training and support so she could manage her period with privacy and confidence each month.

Equipped with the proper tools and knowledge, Yekite and other young women in her school stopped missing class. Female dropout rates at her school decreased significantly. And even the taboos and stigmas surrounding menstruation eased, as girls and boys alike received education on the topic and were encouraged to be supportive of their classmates.

“After getting training on menstrual hygiene, I started using the girls’ hygiene kit. Now I come to school at all times without any shame,” Yekite shares. “Also, I now teach other girls how to make their own kits and help them learn to use it.”

Supporting Girls Across the Globe

And Ethiopia’s not the only country where FH helps empower girls for equal opportunity. In Uganda, FH trains pre-teen and teen girls on how to make reusable sanitary pads using locally available materials.
These girls in Uganda are taking control of their health, their education, and their futures.

A similar project was undertaken in Cambodia with great success a few years ago.

In Uganda, girls were also provided with sex education and made aware of the benefits of refraining from early sex and pregnancy. The girls were encouraged to share what they learned with their friends in the hopes of reducing female school absenteeism.

Just last year in Guatemala, 500 teens received sustainable girls’ hygiene kits including a carry bag, a bar of soap, one washcloth, three sanitary pads, eight panty liners, one discrete carry pouch, and a set of instructions on how to use the kit.

During the distribution, they learned about personal care, the correct use of sanitary accessories, and the benefits of proper handwashing.

These kits are a powerful tool that equips girls to manage their periods with dignity and comfort. They will also enable them to get out and about during their periods and go to school without the stress or embarrassment associated with menstruating.

Through initiatives like these, girls and women are being empowered to move through their communities with greater equality and freedom.

Teen Girls Say Thank You

In communities FH serves all around the world, the lives of young women are being transformed by female dignity kits. Teens are now able to fully embrace the opportunities an education provides to them and be hopeful about the bright future God has planned for their lives. Their words of gratitude express how they feel:

“FH is giving me hygiene kits, which help me attend my school without absenteeism.” —Ebise, Ethiopia

“I am a 9th grade student and 17 years old. I am from Ethiopia. FH is supporting me with dignity kits so that I can attend my school properly. God bless FH.” —Kena, Ethiopia

“I need to thank FH Ethiopia for ensuring quality education and gender equity by implementing menstrual hygiene in our school. I hope I can share my experience with others and that FH will provide this opportunity to other schools.” —Yekite, Ethiopia

Join us on March 8, International Women's Day, for a boundary-pushing webinar on gender equality and poverty featuring three international FH experts.



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Food for the Hungry: Empowering Girls for Equal Opportunity
Empowering Girls for Equal Opportunity
Empowering girls to manage their periods is a key piece to helping them stay in school.
Food for the Hungry
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