EMPOWERING GIRLS -WASH
STUDENT ACTIVITIES AND COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
The Empowering Girls (-Wash) Project goal is to promote bridging the gender gap, in particular through promoting girl students the equal opportunity to education in school. The focus is thereby laid on installation of sanitation facilities, education on hygiene in general, with special focus on female hygiene (in particular during menstruation) and distribution of reusable sanitary pads and menstrual cups.
The project began in 2009 in partnership with the Government of Canada.
AFAWI’s research found that very few female students were using safe and hygienic menstrual management practices and were often using only toilet roll or used cloth while menstruating and therefore lacked of basic hygiene practices. Further the topic of menstruation was and still is highly stigmatized in the Ghanaian society, which hinders important education and proper handling of the monthly bleeding. It further often leads to a feeling of shame especially amongst young girls. As a result a hiding of the menstruation and a monthly absence in school during this time is often observed.
AFAWI therefore started with this project with a combination of installation of sanitation facilities, education and distribution of sanitary pads and menstrual cups. Once the girls were properly educated on hygiene in general and menstruation and supplied with sanitary pads or menstrual cups and further washroom facilities were upgraded, the adolescent students were able to safely manage their periods with increased comfort and privacy. As a result, the attendance rate of the girls in school improved.
AFAWI thereby especially highly promotes the use of menstrual cups in communities because it is not only environmentally sustainable, but can also be used for 10 years with no added cost. It can be worn up to 12 hours allowing female students to only focus on their studies while in school.
AFAWI further led workshops for both male and female students to improve the understanding of sexual maturation, healthy menstrual management and the issues of HIV/AIDS to provoke open discussion. Students are also asked to share the information with their peers and community. The peer educators receive ongoing support and monitoring by AFAWI.
Over 942 students have so far participated in the Empowering Girls project.
In 2018 AFAWI again distributed 142 reusable sanitary kits and educated young girls on menstrual hygiene management in three schools located in Tongo, Talensi District in the Upper East Region of Ghana.
AFAWI holds female and male sexual health workshops separately for adolescent youth. The workshops focus on sexual maturation, healthy menstrual hygiene management and the issues of HIV/AIDS and to provoke open discussion. The aim of the workshops are to increase awareness and knowledge, increase girls attendance rate, reduce teen pregnancy and STDs and improve gender equality.
SANITARY PADS AND MENSTRUAL CUPS
Female adolescent students are provided with sanitary pads or a menstrual cup. The goal is for students not to feel menstruation as a barrier for attending school.
BUILD SANITARY FACILITIES
AFAWI builds toilets, sinks and sanitary pad infirmaries, as many schools in Ghana do not have adequate washrooms, limiting girls from attending school while they are menstruating, The sanitary pad infirmaries provide sanitary disposal of menstrual materials.
INSTALLATION OF HANDWASHING FACILITIES
AFAWI installs Veronika buckets in schools to facilitate hand washing and hygiene among school going children in Ghana. We work to provide in addition hand sanitizers and handwashing soaps in our operationl schools.
AFAWI also forms school clubs which seeks to engage young girls and boys in extra curriculum activities such as spelling competition, debates and sporting activities all around the topic of personal hygiene.