School's in Session at SHE

 The holidays are over! Students are back in school, which is great news for me! As Junior Marketing Officer, Rwanda, I am responsible for conducting market research so the SHE team can develop a marketing and communications plan that speaks to our target consumers during our pilot: rural school girls. Therefore, I was delighted to see students with their bookbags, because I was headed to the same place! I went to Kayonza recently to interview school headmasters.

We first visited with the headmasters in order to introduce SHE as a potential partner and supplier of our SHE pads to them. I was there not only to gain a broad understanding about the school and girls’ existing needs for menstrual pads and menstrual hygiene education, but also to arrange focus group discussions with the girls that will take place later on this month. During my visits, I also had the opportunity to take a look at the school’s existing sanitation facilities including the latrines, girls’ rooms, water tanks,etc.

The girls' room at Gs Gishanda, where girls can access pads while at school.
Entrance to the girls' latrine at Gs Gishanda.

My most memorable moments of my school visits were talking directly to the girls about how they manage their menstrual hygiene needs while at school. “Our school has a home-like atmosphere, so you can approach your friend and provide a pad , and tell her how to put it on when she doesn’t know how to, or even check on her during break when she is not feeling well,”  explained Esperance, the Head Girl at Gs Cyinzovu.

Head Girl, Esperance, at GS Cyinzovu
The school administration also acknowledges that lack of menstrual pads does result in absenteeism for some girls. “Pads have an impact on girls’ attendance, therefore, we will set apart a certain amount [of the school budget] for sanitary pads for girls even if the government stops providing funding for pads, because we know girls needs them to pursue their studies,” shared Juliet, the school secretary at Gs Gishanda.

In the future, we are expecting to meet mothers to get their opinions, the cultural context of menstruation, as well as surrounding taboos. I look forward to meet them, and I hope we will learn a lot from them.

- Gerardine, Junior Marketing Officer, Rwanda

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