In Burundi, 80% of women don’t have the means to regularly provide themselves with sanitary pads, tampons, and underwear. Use of inappropriate solutions is therefore frequent and leads to many gynaecological complications.
The lack of access to sanitary protection constitutes one of the leading causes of school leaving for young Burundian women. Compounding this are the disastrous hygiene conditions in many of the country’s schools, where access to water and toilet facilities are often limited.
Therefore, while nearly 90% of young women are enrolled in the first year of the primary cycle, there are just 60% at the age of 13, the average age of the emergence of their first periods. Many young women prefer to stay at home rather than go to school and miss an average of four days of class each month. They get behind on their classes, flunking tests, become discouraged and, far too often, abandon their studies. The consequences due to these dropouts are devastating: precocious marriages and pregnancies, as well as limited career prospects. This is how the poverty cycle is perpetuated for these young women and their families.
Within the framework of the Dignity for Women programme, this new project aims to create a production unit with a capacity of 32 000 reusable-pad packs each year. These high-quality sanitary products will be sold to the young women and girls of the community at an affordable price and will be given to around ten thousand vulnerable young women attending twenty pilot intermediate schools.
The project also concerns raising community awareness, particularly among young women and men, regarding menstrual and reproductive health.
Eventually, this production unit should adopt a sustainable economic model capable of meeting the local demand of those women who are able to pay, while providing access to subsidised kits for the most vulnerable young women and girls.
In terms of impact, the goals pursued are to reduce the rate of school absenteeism and the number of undesired pregnancies by 80% and to allow at least 80% of beneficiary intermediate students to adopt the modern contraceptive methods on offer, in order to delay or limit births.