Washington: Giving free sanitary pads and lessons on puberty to teenage girls can be an effective way in boosting their attendance at schools, which can have long-term economic implications for women in low and middle-income countries, reveals a new study.
The study has been published in the journal PLOS ONE. Researchers from the University of Oxford in London indicated that in schools where sanitary pads and puberty education were not provided absenteeism among girls were 17 percent higher compared with schools where girls received pads, education or a combination of both.
The paper showed that there is now good evidence to back up such efforts to improve the education of girls and women, thereby raising their esteem and job prospects. The research spanned 18 months, involving 1,000 girls at eight schools in Uganda.
The team found that schools where sanitary pads or puberty education were not provided missed school for nearly three and a half days.
"Many girls don't know about periods before they encounter their first one. They are totally unprepared because they receive no information or training on how to manage them," said lead author Paul Montgomery.
"Just by giving girls lessons in puberty or a purpose-built sanitary pad means they were more likely to stay at school during their periods, minimising the risk of disruption to their schooling. Simple interventions like these can have major long-term economic implications for women in low and middle income countries, which socially empowers them," Montgomery added.
"In developing countries, it is particularly important to be sensitive to the girls' social norms as we need to avoid stigmatising girls through singling them out for pads. There is therefore an urgent need to carry out further research examining this feature of possible intervention programmes," said co-author Julie Hennegan from the University of Oxford.