The menstrual cycle is not a disease. School girls can attend classes, play, eat and drink anything they normally would, and attend social events. But they need more reproductive health training and hygienic materials to keep them clean and healthy in school.
To keep girls in class comfortably, I Matter Initiative−a non-profit organization has donated sanitary materials and trained visually impaired school girls at HVP Gatagara Secondary School, located in Rwamagana district Eastern Province.
The local non-profit organization (I matter Initiative) is dedicated to promotion of gender rights and equality, and combat period poverty and stigma associated with menstruation in Rwanda.
The sanitary materials delivered on November 11, included sanitary pads, soaps and underwear.
Since 2019, the “I Matter Initiative,” a youth-led initiative to empower young girls, has been collaborating with young women in various communities around the nation at the village level with the goal of putting an end to poverty via advocacy, service, and awareness.
“We work with schools that educate students with disabilities. There was a need for training girls about their reproductive health and ensuring that they keep them in class, healthy and clean. It is a general challenge to find all required materials in schools, but girls with disabilities need special care and attention,” Divine Ingabire, Executive Director of I Matter Initiative said.
“We found several challenges; children who were abandoned by their parents, children who cannot talk to their parents because they don’t know sign languages. So, we talk to school managements for us to donate these services and sanitary materials,” Ingabire said.
She pointed out that Initiative works with three schools including HVP Gatagara in Rwamagana and Gatagara school from Huye district and Nyanza school for students with disabilities located in the Southern Province.
The donation of sanitary materials for partnered with Bank of Kigali with a target to provide visually impaired girls with equal rights to menstrual hygiene supplies while creating a community of girls and women confident and aware of sexual reproductive health and rights-related issues.
The six-month long partnership worth Rwf16,760,000 between Bank of Kigali and I matter Initiative was signed in July 2022.
“This helps us to reach our targets of delivering quality education to girls. Of course, we cannot provide everything to girls, it is very important for such partners. Girls and boys must get equal education opportunities and it is everyone’s responsibility to fight for that,” Placide Uwiringiyimana Kaberuka, headteacher of HVP Gatagara said.
“Absence of sanitary pads can lead to absenteeism, or using improper materials during the menstruation period which tends to be unhealthy,” he added.