“PROVIDING A SUSTAINABLE SOLUTION TO MENSTRUAL CARE PROBLEMS IN CAMEROON”

KEY-MESSAGE OF OUR CAMPAIGN: Menstruation is a gift and shall not be a reason for discrimination or disadvantages for women in any way.

SUMMERY:

Young girls in Cameroon suffer from discrimination, shaming and many disadvantages when they have their period. We identified a lack of knowledge concerning menstruation hygiene, menstruation in general, as well as a lack of financial means to buy sanitary pads. We want to target this issue with two main strategies: Educating young girls on menstruation as such, menstrual hygiene and the distribution of the menstrual cup, which lasts 10 years and is environmentally friendly, having been made out of silicon. This makes our project different and innovative compared to most other ongoing projects in Cameroon, which tackle this issue. This project will address 6 goals of the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030, with a special focus on Gender Equality, which constitutes Sustainable Development Goal 5 and the Combat of Climate Change, which constitutes Sustainable Development Goal 13.

 

STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM:

Women, simply by being women, face countless challenges in Cameroon. Among them are to be found health related issues due to the monthly menstruation. Menstruation still constitutes a world-wide taboo, but it is particularly restrictive within the African context. The menstruation cycle constitutes something dirty and shameful that most people keep silent about. The fact that women feel embarrassed and ashamed of their menstruation is limiting them in their personal growth, it alienates them from connecting with their body and their femininity and thus can lower their self-esteem and their pride for being a woman. But that is only one of the issues that results from the societal perception of the menstruation.

Once a month, a young girl is confronted with the great challenge of dealing with her period. In rural areas many girls don’t even know about the existence of sanitary pads. Mothers just tell their daughters to use toilet-paper or a piece of material and to stay away from men as they could get pregnant. In urban areas it is equally common to seek alternative coping-strategies. Buying sanitary articles, such as pads, is expensive and not every girl/woman can afford it– some are even to ashamed of buying them. The materials that are used are not necessarily clean and hygienic and thus bear the high risk of infecting the girl/women. Instead of changing them regularly, they use and reuse them for as long as possible, so that bacteria’s start to spread. Beside health-related risks, menstruation causes many girls to drop out of school every month to avoid the shaming of the classmates they can be exposed to. The United Nations Children’s Fund and UNESCO estimates that one in 10 school-age African girls either skip school during menstruation or drop out entirely because of a lack of sanitation[1]. This makes the menstruation to one of the highest contributors to girls dropping out of school. Due to regularly drop-out of school, girls tend to be left behind and have a harder time to keep up, compared with boys. Furthermore, the distribution of sanitary pads, as suggested by most organizations, does not constitute an environmentally friendly solution. Sanitary pads add to the production of waste and hence produce environmental problems.         We are going to solve this problem by introducing the menstrual cup to urban and rural areas in Cameroon, which guarantees a sustainable and environmentally friendly solution.

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cameroon-uk-funds-campaign-to-address-menstrual-hygiene-challenges