One of the barriers girls face is lack of access to proper menstrual sanitary care (e.g. privacy for changing, access to water and sanitary pads). The scarcity of sanitary pads contributes to girls not attending school. A study by Dolan, Ryus et al., paints a picture of puberty education as a process characterized by uncertainty, fear, and distress. In contrast to girls in North America, most girls in the study had little or no knowledge of menstruation prior to the beginning of menarche.
The girls claimed that their family rarely discussed puberty and reproductive concerns with them. Girls whose families informed them of menstruation prior to menarche reported being told little information. According to these girls, the lack of information contributed to their shame and exclusion and also left them with little practical understanding of how to manage their menses.
In some African countries, parents deem the traditional method of wearing cloth and tissue as adequate but it is an unreliable means of protection when girls are walking the long distances to school. In the study, over three quarters of girls reported soiling their garments when using cloth was the only available means of menstrual protection. The authors interviewed a 15-year-old girl in the remote area. The girl said, “I am scared of soiling my dress because I am using cloth and have to be very conscious about that.
I have soiled myself once at school and I went home but never returned back to school.” The likelihood of soiling your dress when wearing cloth made school a risky proposition. Girls are afraid to start their period in school because there is no water and private areas to change. Some girls also share clothes with other people when their clothes are damp and stained. Providing sanitary pads is an effective solution because it can make a huge impact on their school attendance and also their reproductive health.
In this study, 95% of the girls reported that lack of access to sanitary pads during their period