LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – School attendance improves when girls in sub-Saharan Africa to be taught about menstruation and free sanitary napkin, boosting their chances on the labour market and self-esteem, researchers said on Wednesday.
A team from the University of Oxford conducted a trial with the 1000 girls in eight schools in Uganda, providing girls in six schools with sanitary towels, information about menstruation and a combination of both.
In the largest study of its kind, found the rate of absenteeism from school was 17 percent higher among girls who had no access to sanitary towels or information about puberty.
“A lot of girls don’t know about periods before they encounter their first,” said Paul Montgomery, lead author of the report, published in the scientific journal PLOS.
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“They are totally not prepared for because they receive no information or training about how to manage them,” he said in a statement.
The menstruation is still taboo in many countries all over the world, where it is often as painful or shameful.
Around 200 girls participated in the trial, said she felt more ashamed or insecure during the menstrual period and around the 140 girls said they missed school.
A lot of Ugandan girls from school when they are with their children, the study said, citing national statistics that show that only 22 percent of Ugandan girls are enrolled in secondary education, compared with 91 percent in primary education.
Those who live in rural areas are the least likely to go to school, official figures show.
“Simple interventions such as these are important long-term economic consequences for the women in low-and middle-income countries, which are socially, she says,” Montgomery said of the trial.
When 10 percent more girls go to school, a country’s GDP increases by an average of 3 percent, according to gender equality campaigners.
Each additional year of secondary education leads to a 15-25 percent increase in a girl’s potential income, they say.