Empowering Girls in Uganda
Water, sanitation and education are all closely related to gender. Although education is valued in Uganda, many people see it as more important to educate boys over girls. As a result girls are often the ones tasked with fetching water, while their brothers are sitting in school studying. While building wells at schools definitely helped to get girls in school, it was not enough. DROP’s director and founder Stacey Travis made it a priority to find ways to get more girls into school. The problems were complex as there were many reasons why parents did not feel the need to educate girls, but everywhere we went, we would talk to girls who were desperate to go to school, so we knew we had to do create a program based on empowering girls.
Menstrual Hygiene Management
One of the first things we saw was that girls started to drop out at much higher rates once they hit puberty. Because many girls have no way to effectively manage their monthly cycle, they end up staying home. This means that they end up missing several days of school every month, which causes them to get further and further behind the rest of the class. After a while they start thinking that maybe the reason they can’t keep up is because they aren’t as smart as the other students, so they drop out. It’s difficult to realize that a natural bodily function can be the thing that condemns half of a country to have to live in poverty, and for us it became impossible to do nothing to help. We designed a washable menstrual hygiene pad that students could make in school. The pads were reusable, easy to make, but also became a small business for women. By sewing pads and selling them at local markets, mothers were able to not just keep their girls from missing school each month, but also to set themselves up with their own pad making small businesses, helping other women and also making money to pay school fees and feed their families.
Empowering Girls in South Sudan
Since 2006 Drop in the Bucket has been working in South Sudan, which has some of the lowest rates of girls in school in the world. A recent statistic stated that a 15 year old girl has a higher chance of dying during child birth than of finishing high school. Once we realized the scope of this problem we started to figure out ways to help. So we created a program in South Sudan, where we are empowering girls by helping them stay in school through scholarships and mentoring programs.