KAMPALA, Uganda--(BUSINESS WIRE)--AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is putting the spotlight on menstrual health for young women and girls through the donation of one million sanitary pads to three countries in Africa: Uganda, Nigeria and Zambia. The symbolic gesture is in honor of the 2017 International Day of the Girl Child; a United Nations recognized day that promotes the rights of girls and addresses gender inequality issues that put young women and girls at a disadvantage. It is commemorated on October 11 of every year.
According to a UNESCO report, 1 in 10 girls in Sub-Saharan Africa misses school during their menstrual periods, which is about 20% of a given school year, and so many more drop out of school completely once they start menstruating due to lack of sanitary pads and menstrual health services.
“At the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, we believe in giving every child every means necessary to live up to their greatest potential. In some parts of the world where we do our work, this translates into some of life’s most basic necessities. Most often young girls skip school because they cannot afford to buy sanitary pads and governments are not stepping in to help,” said Michael Weinstein, President, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF).
“Every child should be celebrated and being a woman should never be treated as an impediment, girls will shape the world of tomorrow and we all have the obligation to give them the confidence to succeed in building a better world,” he shared.
Beyond menstrual health services, there have been growing concerns about how lack of access to sanitary pads puts young women and girls at risk of contracting HIV infection.
“When young women and girls are forced to stay out of school, it makes them vulnerable to new HIV infections and easy targets for transactional sex. They also miss out on overall health information and education that would enable them to make more informed choices,” explained Dr. Penninah Iutung, AHF Africa Bureau Chief.
“Something so natural and integral to a growing women’s development should never be a barrier to success or met with embarrassment or shame. This empowerment has a deep lasting impact keeping girls in school, staying healthy, taking care of themselves and living productive lives, which includes reducing risks and stopping the spread of HIV,” she added.
This event forms part of AHF’s multi-institutional campaign - GIRLS ACT; an initiative that empowers young women and girls with information and services on HIV/AIDS, Sexual Reproductive Health, Menstrual Hygiene Management, Sexual and Gender Based violence, Psychosocial support and Self-esteem for better health outcomes.
“It is this type of holistic approach that leads to lasting impact on our communities, one that requires the concerted effort of all stakeholders. More importantly, the government needs to pay more attention to the menstrual needs of young women and girls and ensure that sanitary pads are made available at no cost both for those in school and out-of-school,” emphasized Terri Ford, AHF Chief of Global Advocacy and Policy. The one million sanitary pads will be split amongst the three countries, with each of them receiving about 333,300 sanitary pads.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 810,000 individuals in 38 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Eastern Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare.