Bilballa High School (Ethiopia) – menstrual hygiene management (MHM) supplies and education
Create Impact was founded by two Australians in 2010 to address the poverty levels and lack of access to primary and secondary education in a remote region of central Ethiopia. Rural Ethiopia is considered one of the poorest regions of the world, with 9 out of 10 children living in extreme poverty and half of all children still not in school.
Create Impact’s work on-the-ground is carried out exclusively by local Ethiopian people. The Project Manager in Ethiopia works with communities, woreda leaders and government to identify communities with little or no access to education, clean water and/or health care.
The Australian arm of Create Impact provides funding, expertise, monitoring and mentoring to the Create Impact staff in Ethiopia.
The school dropout rate for girls in Ethiopia is 51% by Grade 8 (and only 30% for boys), with menstruation a significant cause of the gender discrepancy in the dropout rate. Providing girls with the MHM supplies and education they need to manage their periods has been shown to contribute to improved maternal health and effects school absenteeism, gender discrepancy and women’s empowerment (Sisay, 2014).
In 2018, Georgina (Founding Director of Create Impact) met with a focus group of five female students from Bilballa High School to discuss their MHM. There are 436 girls of menstrual age attending Bilballa High School. Most of the girls manage their periods by using pads they make at home from scraps of material or rags, such as old torn up old pieces of clothing.
Georgina provided each of the girls in the focus group with reusable cloth menstrual pads that had been donated from an Australian company, HannahPad. Follow-up with the focus group 6-months later found all the girls were using their pads each month, positive satisfaction with use and anecdotal reports of improved confidence and reduced school absences due to menstruation. The preliminary information gained from this experience, as well as findings from research studies relating to MHM in Ethiopia, endorse this project.
Create Impact has sourced the purchase of reusable pads within Ethiopia. The Meriam Seba Sanitary Products Factory was established by an Ethiopian woman, Freweini Mebrahtu, to produce and distribute high volumes of quality washable menstrual pads to girls in Ethiopia. The pads are environmentally friendly, cost effective and last up to two-years. The factory trains and employs women to make the pads using locally sourced materials. Freweini Mebrahtu has been involved in the education and distribution of pads in schools on a wide-scale in the Tigray region of Ethiopia.
UCF received an application for $2,000 to purchase the MHM kits directly from the Meriam Seba Sanitary Products Factory.
The main expected outcomes of this project over the next two years are:
- Reduced female student school absenteeism absences at Bilballa High school
- Reduced female student school drop outs at Bilballa High school
These outcomes can be measured quantitatively using school statistics, comparing the data from pre-project to post-project. The findings and outcomes will determine the continuation of the project at Bilballa High School and the possible expansion into other rural secondary schools.
Create Impact have established an impressive process to distribute, educate and manage the programme which was outlined to us and UCF directors were pleased to approve this grant.