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 2016 in partnership with the Ministry of Health in Homa bay County. LAF found out 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 Luo 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.
LAF 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, LAF 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.
Over 180 students have so far participated in the Empowering Girls project.