Project Cost: £3,000
Project Location: Chisala, Malawi

DATUM FOUNDATION believes that investing in girls’ education has the potential to transforms the lives of girls but also their communities. Girls who receive an education are less likely to marry young and more likely to lead healthy, productive lives. They tend to earn higher incomes, participate in the decisions that most affect them, and build better futures for themselves and their families.

Despite a wealth of evidence demonstrating the important girls’ education – gender disparities in education persist. There are many barriers to girls’ education – these include poverty where poor families often favour boys when investing in education. In some places, teaching practices are not gender-responsive and result in gender gaps in learning and skills development. Another main reason is that schools do not meet the safety, hygiene or sanitation needs of girls.

Finished in 2016, Chisala Secondary School provides a high standard of education to all children in the rural village of Chisala and the surrounding villages. By providing boarding, Chisala Secondary School allows girls to study without fear of falling pregnant or getting married too early.

 

After completion, DATUM proposed additional measures to assist girls entering and retaining them in secondary school. DATUM arranged for the supply of sanitary pads to all girl pupils. Each student was given a sanitary pad kit – this includes reusable pads, panties, soap and instructions.

 

The 300 packs, manufactured by local tailors, were supplied by our partner in this application: Supreme Sanitary Pads.

Supreme Sanitary Pads, in association with the schoolteachers and staff of the local Community Clinic, arrange Menstrual Health Care classes (given to all girls at least once a term) and Reproductive Health Education (given once a term to both boys and girls in separate groups).

“Providing reproductive and menstrual health care is very important to keeping girl pupils in school and reducing unwanted pregnancies.” Elizabeth Neyali – Head nurse, Community Clinic, Chisala

 

Additionally, DATUM is in the process of building a new changing room adjacent to the girls’ toilets. This will provide a safe and private room for girls to change their pads and underwear. Facilities will include a sink with tap, soap and towels, as well as a supply of clean pads and panties.

These proposals are supported by the local community and the staff of the school.

“Datum’s proposals to help girls stay in secondary education are a welcome idea. Many girls fail to finish school, due to family breakdown, early marriages, and unwanted pregnancies. Others do not come to school because of problems with periods. Therefore, the proposed policies to help a girl child stay in school are very important” – Fischer Zimba, Headmaster, Secondary School, Chisala

DATUM”s ambitions to provide a decent level of education for girls and ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services, including for family planning, information and education are enshrined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG – Target 4.1, SDG Target 4.5, and SDG Target 3.7).