You started your period today. Your school has no private toilet facility. Would you go to school?
Yeah, we probably wouldn't either.
Every month, 500 million women and girls are forced to choose whether they'll attend school and work because they lack access to proper sanitation facilities while on their periods. Simply hitting puberty age will cause 69% of school girls in Uganda to drop out after primary school, and the problem is even more acute in rural areas where one outdoor latrine with five stalls can service over 1,000 school-age children and their teachers. That's 200 people to one stall.
Then, there's the lack of menstrual supplies...
Accessing pads may mean sacrificing a week's worth of pay (and groceries) to afford them, or trading sex in exchange for a month's supply. Yep, you read that correctly. Uganda's neighboring country, Kenya, reported 10% of girls 15 years or younger have had transactional sex to obtain money to buy pads. Without funds, women and girls find ways to be resourceful on their period-using banana leaves, old cloth, bits of mattress pads, paper torn from school books, or even soil or ash to manage their flow. These are not only uncomfortable and unreliable, but also can cause infections and reproductive complications.
"The lack of sanitary products...greatly threatens the education prospects of needy rural girls. But the condition is very manageable with adequate health information and with products to use. The various health risks that girls get exposed to if they drop out of school include HIV/AIDS, teenage pregnancy, and more." -Timothy Arnold, DROTY Founder
How Saalt is Helping
At Saalt, we've seen firsthand what a simple period cup can do to provide a safer and more hygienic alternative for women and girls. Because the cup can be worn for up to 12 hours, girls can last the school day without having to empty it, and the cup requires minimal water for cleaning.
But our mission extends beyond just donating cups. We want to create an environment where new cup users feel educated and empowered to adopt the cup as their long-term menstrual hygiene solution, whether that means providing more menstrual health education, or better access to sanitation facilities like latrines and clean water sources.
Building a New School Latrine
To celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day, we're partnering with Dreams of the Tropical Youth (DROTY) in rural Uganda to build a latrine and clean water source for a school that currently has no private toilet facility. The closest water source used for hand washing and bathing is a shallow well seven kilometers (that's 4.3 miles!) away from the school. On a designated school day, each class from grades 3 to 7 walks to retrieve water from this communal well to fill a tank outside the school, which takes important time away from student's learning.
Although the school has the potential to educate 600 primary-aged girls, only 317 are currently enrolled because of inadequate facilities. DROTY founder, Timothy Arnold, hopes the new latrine will encourage more girls to stay in school.
One toilet facility at a time-we can create dignifying and private spaces for girls in rural schools as one way of helping them to realize their dreams through acquiring education and skills." -Timothy Arnold, DROTY Founder
Every Saalt purchase not only helps get more cups into the hands of those in need, but also helps fund life-changing projects, like this latrine, to bring sustainable and long-term solutions to communities. Thank you, Saalt friends, for helping make this project a reality.
Celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day with us by sharing this post and tagging @saaltco + #menstrualhygieneday / #passthesaalt to show your support!
Dreams of the Tropical Youth (DROTY) is a youth-led NGO that targets vulnerable and disadvantaged youth in the Kyotera District of southwestern Uganda. Their aim is to uplift the socioeconomic and health well-being of rural youth through empowerment programs that educate about basic healthcare, HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, and environmental conservation and protection.
Organizations like DROTY are crucial in fueling the movements of youth-led education because young people are likely to critically listen to their peers. Grassroots organizations run by local staff are also more likely to make a greater impact, because they know their communities best. By creating long-standing relationships with organizations whose goals align with ours, we're creating an environment for empowerment and positive change.