By Alinah Kallon
In 2020-21 Media Matters for Women launched our Period Power Project, first in the pilot phase. The initial project yielded a huge success. We taught our listeners (Adolescent Girls) to create and sew their own menstrual pads as they listened and conversed about the information provided by district midwives concerning all aspects of sanitary hygiene. Our journalists also produced podcasts on menstrual health and hygiene and played them in schools where the girls were able to listen and learn. Our journalists reported that the girls had many questions and had very little idea of how to take care of themselves whilst they were on their period. The exchange with the local and national experts resulted in a
significant impact on these young women, who were keen to share what they learned with family and friends.
We learned in our pilot phase that girls in Sierra Leone miss 20% of school days because they are on their period! With this in mind, in October we launched a follow-up pilot project, Period Power Project 2, where we continued our menstrual health training days in schools with the goal to create long-lasting and sustainable change. The training in each school involved an MMW Senior Journalist along with a local midwife. Together, they went to community schools to talk about menstrual hygiene and to teach them how to sew reusable pads. We partnered with 30 schools, with ten from each of our three operational areas. We ran one-day sessions for five consecutive weeks. We worked closely with the Home Economics teachers from our partner schools and provided them with a handbook and teacher training guide as well as sewing kits for the production of reusable pads.
Over one thousand pupils (boys and girls) from the partner schools benefited from this project. The project ended with a grand finale inter-school pad sewing and quiz competition with students competing across the three operational regions (Bombali, Kenema, and Western Rural Area). There were prizes for 1 st , 2 nd and 3 rd positions. The winning school also received a set of sewing kits to furnish the Home Economics lab so that pupils can learn how to sew reusable sanitary pads and hopefully have a pad bank in their respective schools where girls can have access to sanitary pads when they have an unexpected period during school hours. Certificates were also given to partner schools as an appreciation for their participation in the project.