Periods and girls’ education | ActionAid UK

Periods and girls’ education

Menstrual hygiene education for girls in Rwanda

In some communities that we work with, taboos and secrecy surrounding periods means that often girls have never heard of menstruation before their first period, making it a confusing and traumatic experience. Without sex education, myths about periods continue. Girls tell us that they've been told they can't do certain things in their daily life when they have their period, from using salt in their cooking to milking animals, or that they can't get pregnant if they have sex while they have their period. 

Our girls' clubs and period safe rooms give girls an environment where they can get information and ask questions about periods, sex and pregnancy, so that they are better informed about their bodies. 

Learn more about how our approach is helping girls like Denise stay in school. 

Building safe, separate toilets at school 

Without a safe, private toilet at school, girls can't feel secure and comfortable going to the toilet. This is a problem throughout girls' school lives, but it is especially problematic when they are on their period. 

A study in Ethiopia found that 50% of girls miss between one and four days of school per month due to menstruation.1 The impact of girls losing out on secondary education is huge: if all women had a secondary education, child deaths would be cut in half, saving 3 million lives.2

Read how our new toilets in Ethiopia will help girls stay in school.

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  • 2. UNESCO:

Breaking taboos and ending shame

Chhaupadi is an ancient period shaming practice carried out in parts of western Nepal. Although it's been illegal in Nepal since 2005, deeply-held views mean it continues.

Girls are banished from their homes during their periods and forced to live alone in isolated huts, because they are believed to bring bad luck. But ActionAid is working with local communities to end the practice of chhaupadi for good, so that girls can go to school and can manage their periods with dignity.

Read how we support community heroes to end the practice of Chhaupadi. 


Page updated 27 May 2020