Transforming lives in Ethiopia

Reading time: 3 min

The life changing gift of a Dignity Period Pack is part of an incredible journey from shame to celebration. Read about how stigmatisation is overcome through this most invaluable gift:

Imagine starting your period and not knowing what was happening to you. Facing humiliation and shame, unable to afford, or even access, a sanitary pack. You try talking to your mother about because you’re too ashamed to ask your friends, but she tells you very little and presents you with a rag.

This is the reality of hundreds of thousands of girls in Ethiopia. Periods are such a highly taboo subject that in some rural areas, up to 51% of girls drop out of school when they start menstruating. Access to sanitation increases this stigmatisation- 98% of girls in Tigray lack access to sanitary products- and girls are forced to use whatever materials are available, such as grass, leaves, old rags or nothing at all.

But periods are an important step into womanhood that should be celebrated and not shamed.

And so, this is where our partner, Dignity Period, steps in.

Dignity Period has a vision to see every girl in Ethiopia celebrate her period and never miss out on an education- the greatest gift of all. They help Ethiopian girls stay in school by providing the supplies and education they need to manage menstruation. Their work is multifaceted and starts with the creation of their Dignity Period Packs:

Firstly, Dignity Period collaborates with the Mariam Seba Sanitary Products Factory to create the packs. The factory was established by Freweini Mebrahtu (CNN Hero 2019), and employs local women, while providing a creche and school for their children. You can take a look behind the scenes here:

After Dignity Period collect the packs from the factory, they travel across Tigray to schools and villages to provide educational talks on puberty and menstruation. They know that education about puberty and menstruation goes hand-in-hand with ending the taboo. Not only do they provide these packs, they also give educational talks to girls, boys, parents, teachers, and community and religious leaders.

Once these talks have finished, they present the girls with the Dignity Period Packs in a celebration ceremony. The packs contain 4 reusable sanitary pads, 2 pairs of underwear and an educational booklet on puberty and menstruation for them to revise what they learnt from the talk. Their aim here is to help girls feel proud about their periods and for any stigmatisation to no longer be the norm.

Finally, Dignity Period encourages the girls to give the educational booklets to boys in their villages once they have finished with them. They understand that not just girls, but boys too are crucial in ending period shaming in Ethiopia. In 2019, Dignity Period reached 175 school, delivered 6,000 Dignity Packs and decreased school absences among girls by 24%!

The journey Dignity Period has created for girls to feel proud of their period is not only keeping girls in school, but it is educating multiple generations of Ethiopian.

There is still a long way to go to fulfil their dream of eradicating period poverty and shaming in Ethiopia, but with your support, they can be one step closer. Please donate to us today so we can help more girls start their journey to dignity.

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