One week out of school doesn’t seem like a lot. For some students, that might even seem like a much-needed break from the demands of homework and exams. But what about one week every month? That can add up to more than two months of missed lessons for the whole school year.
Girls like Felicia in Mozambique don’t always have much of a choice when they get their periods. Pads and underwear can be expensive, and low-income families are already stretched thin trying to provide other necessities, like food.
“The only way I had to manage my period was to use pieces of cloth from old clothes,” Felicia says. “I would be absent from school when on my period because my school is a two-hour bicycle ride from home and I would always arrive with blood stains on my clothes, which was humiliating.”
Worse, Felicia’s school didn’t have a reliable water supply, so she started getting infections while on her period ¾ costing her more time away from school and medical expenses that her family couldn’t afford.
“My family only has one bicycle, and they could not accompany me to the hospital to get treatment,” Felicia explains. “Eventually, my mother stopped me from going to school while I was on my period.”
Especially in places that prioritize boys’ education over girls’, missing out on so many lessons can lead a girl’s parents to take her out of school entirely. This makes them even more vulnerable to forced marriage, trafficking and gender-based violence ¾ on top of destroying their goals for the future.
Through Plan’s sponsorship program, Felicia received a menstrual health kit with important supplies like reusable pads, soap and underwear, so she could manage her period without missing class.
“I can also stay longer at school to play with other girls because I do not have to worry about staining the bicycle or my uniform,” Felicia says.
Plan is also building clean water systems at schools across Mozambique so that girls have access to washing facilities to better manage their periods and prevent them from skipping classes or dropping out of school altogether. Thanks to the support of our sponsors, we are extending these initiatives to other communities in remote districts in the country.
When you become a sponsor with Plan, you’re partnering with families and communities to provide the resources they need to support their children as they grow. Community-led projects, like installing and maintaining water systems for schools like Felicia’s, can address inequalities that prevent girls from fulfilling their potential. We believe that by ensuring girls stay in school for longer, they can achieve their dreams.