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Partner West Africa provides items for students when menstruating
Partner West Africa provides items for students when menstruating
Volunteer in Ghana and teach students about menstrual health and hygiene
Volunteer with Partner West Africa on the Gender Equality Programme
Volunteer with children on female hygiene projects
Volunteer in Ghana to teach workshops on issues affecting women and girls

PWA Launches Their First Gender Equality Project

Date Posted: 10/10/2018

The Partner West Africa Gender Equality Programme was started this year. Read on to find out how our first project in this area went.

“Ok everyone, tell me everything you know about menstruation”. Too fast? Let us take you back to the beginning.

The Partner West Africa (PWA) Gender Equality Programme started this year with a team of volunteers researching what people know about gender equality and who already does what. They visited government departments, spoke with local NGOs and conducted over 200 interviews with men, women and children across 5 different communities. Whilst doing all this research we met with a local Girl Guide Unit located at Sunbeam School in Kokrobite, only 10 minutes from the PWA offices. Through attendance at their event for ‘Menstrual Hygiene Day’ and discussion with the guide leaders, PWA learned that the teachers were regularly being asked for sanitary pads as students didn’t have any, either because they weren’t prepared for their period or couldn’t afford to buy what they needed. This little seed of information was all we needed to get started.

As our ideas grew, and with a lot of help and support from the Girl Guide Leaders along the way, we designed and piloted workshops about menstruation to help give girls the knowledge they need to understand and be well prepared for their period. We had a plan to tackle the knowledge gaps the girls had, as well as give out the necessary items they require on their period if unable to acquire them themselves. After 2 pilot workshops and a few changes we were ready to deliver them to all girls aged 10 and above at Sunbeam School.

Early in October we came to the school, cleared all the male teachers from the area, even the female teachers were sent away by the students, and off we went. Openly and confidently we talked about female anatomy, periods, pads, hygiene and what’s normal & not normal as well as teaching the girls how to count their cycle and be able to predict when their period will come. We confirmed some knowledge and added a little more to what the girls already knew, busting a few myths along the way. At the end of the workshops, once we had got to know the students a little, we had question time, giving the girls an open space to ask anything. We hoped, as outsiders who the girls may not see again, that they would feel confident to ask us anything and therefore it was considered an important part of the workshop. The oldest girls who had taken part in our pilot workshops knew the information we had taught the younger students, so when it came to their turn we designed a games-based recap session including true or false and fill in the blanks, culminating in a team game based on the U.S. TV series Jeopardy. They also designed posters about menstruation which can be displayed in the school toilets, acting as a reminder and also teaching younger students.

The second element to our project was the Emergency Period Packs: a box of individual packs containing a pack of pads, hands sanitiser and tissues - everything a girl needs on her period. All school staff received a short training talk about the availability and use of the packs and 2 teachers and 2 older students were given responsibility of giving out and recording when a pack was needed and used. This will help us to evaluate the valuableness of the packs and to ensure they are being used correctly. We are piloting these EPP’s for the next three months and will review their effectiveness in January.

So, the simple opening line of our workshop: “tell me everything you know about menstruation”, is the culmination of over six months’ work involving 10 volunteers 26 Girl Guides, 3 Guide leaders, and several members of PWA and Sunbeam school staff.

We’d like to thank the staff and students at Sunbeam School and all the volunteers who have been involved in designing, preparing and delivering the workshops and especially all those who helped fund the work we have done, we couldn’t have done it without any of you.

If you are interested in donating to this project and keeping it running you can donate easily and securely here. Thank you.

Author: Partner West Africa

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