Gender Gender

Girls’ health key to growth

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Children’s Corner with PANIC CHILUFYA
GIRLS’ health and education form the cornerstone of development and the gateway for women’s full participation in political, economic, and cultural life of a country. However, studies have shown that poor menstrual hygiene management have been identified as one of the obstacles to achieving this empowerment through absenteeism and poor performance in schools by girls.
It is therefore gratifying that Minister of General Education David Mabumba has announced that the long-awaited distribution of sanitary towels to girls in public schools will commence next month.
With the support of cooperating partners, Government will undertake the exercise, which will definitely have a positive impact on the issue of educating the girl child.
Lack of access to adequate sanitation facilities and sanitary pads by most girls, especially in rural areas, is one of the most common reasons they miss school and drop out in some cases.
Mr Mabumba revealed the commencement of the programme when President Edgar Lungu commissioned a newly-built dormitory at Holy Trinity Secondary School.
He, however, could not disclose how many pads will be disbursed to schools.
“The ministry introduced a programme to issue sanitary pads into our school system, and next month, we will, working together with our cooperating partners, start distributing sanitary pads. I will ask my Permanent Secretary to ensure that Holy Trinity Secondary School is a beneficiary of this programme,” Mr Mabumba said.
Mr Mabumba said President Lungu is confident that giving education to a girl and a Zambian child is a tool to prevent and manage the poverty generation in the country.
He cited the ‘Keeping Girls in School’ and upgrading of primary schools into secondary as some programmes aimed at advancing the education of girls.
In October last year, Parliament adopted a motion moved by Chembe Member of Parliament Sebastian Kopulande, to urge Government to start providing adequate sanitation and sanitary towels to all girls in public schools.
Mr Kopulande observed that lack of access to adequate sanitation facilities and sanitary pads by most girls, especially in rural areas, was one of the most common reasons girls were missing school and dropping out in some cases.
The lack of sanitary facilities has been identified as one of the obstacles to girls’ education. The free distribution of pads for girls in poor and rural areas will be a mitigating factor in addressing this challenge.
This is because most girls, especially in rural areas, cannot afford to buy sanitary wear, and due to lack of sanitary facilities to use, they prefer to stay at home until the end of the cycle.
On average, a cycle takes about five days, meaning a girl child will miss a minimum of two days every month multiplied by three months in a term. This translates in being absent for six days or more every term.
This absence means that girls miss class and lose learning time, which negatively affects their academic performance when compared to the boy child.
Hopefully, girls will take advantage of Government’s commitment to create a favourable learning environment. Going to school, learning new things, being in a clean school environment and being healthy is their God-given right.
Remember, children are our future. Until next week, take care.
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