Women activists ask government to Review universal education, incorporate free sanitary pads

Women activists have asked the government to review the free education program and incorporate a provision of offering free sanitary pads to all female learners.
According to the activists under their umbrella body Lets Turn The Page Uganda,(TLP-Uganda), the challenge of poor performance of girls in final examinations at both primary and secondary level is partly blamed on girls who dodge lessons during their menstruation period because of lack of sanitary pads.
“We ask the government to make it a policy to budget for sanitary pads every year alongside the capitation grants sent to public schools so that female learners can be assured of getting free pads,” Ms. Emmily Kabahumuza, the national coordinator of TLP -Uganda said.
Ms. Kabahumuza said young girls, especially in rural areas miss lessons because they cannot afford sanitary pads which in the end affects their performance in final exams compared to their counterparts the boys that attend school the entire term.
“We call upon female legislators including the Speaker of Parliament Anita Annet Among to support this cause so that distribution of free sanitary pads in public schools becomes a reality even if it requires pushing for a supplementary budget,” she added.
The activists also want the working women to be given a four –days leave during their menses so that they can stay at home and be saved from the ”stigma” at work.
“Mental and emotional stress during menstruation period impacts negatively on the  performance of women at work, some cannot maintain good hygiene due to inadequate facilities in some workplaces,” Ms. Florence Nakandi of Community Transformation Foundation Network also a leader in TLP –Uganda, said
While campaigning in the Lango sub-region in 2015, President Museveni promised that if elected into power, his government would provide school-going girls with sanitary pads and now the female activists need the female legislators to follow up on this presidential pledge.
“In 2017, the government backtracked on this pledge saying that there were no funds to fulfill this promise, and it’s against this background that we are coming up to remind the government to reconsider this pledge,” Ms. Honest Kyomugisha a female representative for Kigezi region on TLP-Uganda Secretariat, said.

Reacting to demands, Dr. Dennis K Mugimba, the Ministry of Education spokesperson advised the activists formally present their petition to the line ministry if they think their ideas will help the education sector.
“Advise them [female activities] to prepare a petition and bring it to the ministry or President’s Office, I am sure it will be considered,” he said.
The government introduced free primary education in 1997 to reduce the cost burden of basic primary education on poor parents. Although the country boasts of improved enrollment in primary schools which is slightly above 10 million, compared to 2.3 million before the introduction of Universal Primary Education (UPE), the scheme has been laden with unchecked graft which has crippled the delivery of quality education in the country, especially at the lower levels.




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