Empowering young girls and fostering progressive women's health.
Young woman leading discussion for her peers.
Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)
On average, young girls in Gulu, a small town in northern Uganda, miss 9 weeks of school every year due to something natural - their period. Although menstruation is natural, it is not always regarded as such by antiquated views. When clean water and electricity is not easily accessible, sanitary pads are not affordable and not readily available in the community.
Stitch Cycle is a program in partnership with Advocates for Rural Community Health (ARCH) and Gulu Women’s Economic Development and Globalization (GWED-G) to facilitate education and training programs for girls to learn about menstruation and learn how to make their own reusable sanitary pads and soap made from local material. Boys participation is also encouraged to develop a dialogue and understanding. This builds on the girls’ self-esteem as they learn about their bodies and how to provide for their natural needs. This also allows girls to learn how to communicate their needs.
The project is directed toward girls and boys in debate club. And part of the assignment is for the participant girls to teach their peers how to make their own. The girls also receive education on best-practices and how to take care of their sanitary pads, how often to replace them, and how to properly wash them. This bridges 3 aspects: peace - developing a better understanding about the menstrual cycle; prosperity - empowering young women and allowing them to continue attending classes and being competitive with their male peers; and planet - pads and soap are made from local material.
Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)
The Acholi population living in northern Uganda has been caught between two rivalries: Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the Government of Uganda. This conflict displaced the Acholi population in Internal Displacement Camps, where health practices were inconsistent. This project specifically helps the Acholi population in health sector recovery, focusing on women’s health.
With menstruation being a taboo subject, Stitch Cycle is designed to educate the population that about the natural cycle. Our beneficiaries are young girls ages between 11 and 14, as well as boys living in Gulu District. This will allow girls to take ownership of their bodies, continue to attend school, and graduate with their male peers without missing school and falling behind.
How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)
In making the sanitary pads, we ensure that we are using local materials and things that are sustainable in the community. Although similar programs are available in Kampala (southern Uganda) they don’t always make it further north to Gulu. Additionally, with differing climates, natural resources between the two regions differ. This idea provides something unique to the northern region that educates and empowers.
Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)
Prototype: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.
Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.
Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)
Adequate health care is a human right which is why Advocates for Rural Community Health provides quality healthcare services in rural regions.
Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/ARCHRuralHealth/
Organization Filing Status
Yes, we are a registered non-profit.
In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.
While working in Uganda, I saw a sign provided by the UN that read “menstruation is normal.” At first this sign can make you laugh, but I realized the sign is there for a reason. The fact that girls can miss 9 weeks of school every year because of something natural, is not something to laugh at. However, allowing girls the opportunity to take ownership of their bodies and open a dialogue in which girls can communicate their needs, that is progress.
Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).
Peace in general has not been stable in a community caught between two opposing groups. In fostering a dialogue in the community that focuses on understanding needs of others and how together as a community they can be addressed, sets the groundwork for peace in the community. Opening this door for dialogue and understanding can lower domestic violence.
Prosperity has been impacted with lack of resources for girls and the stigma centered around menstruation. With girls missing up to 9 weeks of school per year leads to higher high school dropout rates for girls compared to boys. This also places young women at a significant competitive disadvantage compared to their male peers when graduating and entering the workforce. Stitch Cycle’s mission is to ensure girls can attend classes while on their period.
Planet has been impacted due sanitary pads disposal. Without a scheduled trash service, people in Gulu burn their own trash. Using sustainable material eases the impact.
Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)
In focusing on the needs of the community, we are working with Gulu Women’s Economic Development and Globalization (GWED-G), local Gulu nonprofit focusing on every aspect of women’s development. Working with the local organization will allow ARCH to form partnerships with schools. GWED-G has helped in understanding the local materials available to make the reusable pads and soap.
Additionally, GWED-G organizes consistent women’s meetings to create an open discussion about anything going on at home, support for young mothers, and business development training, among other topics. This group has been offering support for more resources for young girls to make reusable sanitary pads.
The results from working with the organization is to continue to ensure this project as community driven. We want to work together with the community to address challenges that are identified as priorities by community members. We also work together with the community in developing solutions.
Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)
One main advantage is the community has identified that women’s issues are important to the community and are lacking resources to further pursue some of the major goals. Women’s menstruation is also something that the UN has identified as a need within the community at large with signs that read “menstruation is normal.” The groups that are already organized will be an incredible asset in opening communication and dialogue at the schools between girls and boys. This support is imperative.
Gulu District, northern Uganda
How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)
12 months for pilot project to be implemented with an additional 15 months to ensure that the project is sustainable and adaptive to the culture with round 2 testing and research and development:
Gathering local material for sanitary pads kits: 3 mos
Identifying schools and scheduling training sessions: 3 mos
Developing curriculum to facilitate discussion: 2 mos
Developing instructions and care for reusable sanitary pads: 1 mos
Implementing the pilot project: 3 mos
Research: 3 mos
Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)