Empowering Girls Through Menstrual Hygiene: A Lifeline for Education in Tanzania’s Geita Region

Students at Nyankumbu Girls Secondary School, who fully participate in the school curriculum, are among the recipients of sanitary pads donated by GGML and a comprehensive menstrual health education campaign in 2023.

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In the bustling town of Geita, Tanzania, a quiet revolution is taking place that holds the key to unlocking the full potential of the region’s young women. For far too long, the stigma and shame associated with menstruation have prevented girls from accessing the education they deserve, trapping them in a cycle of missed classes and diminished opportunities. But now, thanks to the tireless efforts of one mining company, the tide is turning.

Geita Gold Mine Limited (GGML) has taken on the challenge of addressing the critical issue of menstrual hygiene management in local schools, and the results have been nothing short of life-changing. By distributing sanitary pads and providing comprehensive menstrual health education, the company has empowered girls like Kulwa Lameck, a Form Four student at Nyakabale Secondary School, to reclaim their rightful place in the classroom.

“The menstrual hygiene education we received from GGML is very important because it has given me more confidence. I feel free all the time, even during menstruation. I don’t have to worry now that I know what to do and have the facilities to keep me comfortable,” says Kulwa, her words brimming with a newfound sense of liberation.

Read related: Mental Health Matters: Empowering Tanzania’s Well-Being Revolution.

The impact of GGML’s initiative goes far beyond individual experiences. Nyankumbu Secondary School has seen a remarkable change in its students’ attendance and academic performance since the menstrual hygiene training. After menstrual hygiene education, girls’ attendance improved significantly, and their confidence in their studies increased. This has been a game-changer for our girls. It has enlightened their lives now and in the future.

The challenges faced by girls in the Geita region are not unique. Across Tanzania and much of the developing world, menstruation remains a taboo subject, shrouded in misinformation and cultural stigma. According to UNICEF, every day, 300 million women and girls do not have access to a comfortable environment, safe sanitary products, or a private space to manage their periods.

This lack of support has far-reaching consequences, with girls missing up to 40 days of school each year due to menstruation-related problems.

But the tide is turning, thanks to the tireless efforts of organisations like GGML. By addressing the root causes of the problem and providing girls with the knowledge and resources they need, they are improving educational outcomes and breaking down the societal barriers that have long held women back.

As Emily Zachariah, a Form Three student at Nyakabale Secondary School, eloquently says, menstruation is an integral part of creation for girls. It is normal and part of their lives, and it needs to be valued and respected. This shift in attitudes, helped by GGML’s initiatives, is the first step towards a future where menstruation is no longer a source of shame but a celebrated part of the human experience.

Also, read Empowering Tanzanian Women in the Face of Climate Change: A Call for Gender-Sensitive Policies.

The road ahead may be long, but the progress made in Geita is a beacon of hope for girls across Tanzania and beyond. By continuing to invest in menstrual hygiene education and access to essential products, companies like GGML are transforming individual lives and paving the way for a more equitable and empowered future for all.

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