According to UNESCO, 10% of adolescent girls in Africa miss school during their period. They miss an average of 528 school days — nearly two years of learning.

In the rural communities where CAMFED works, menstruation is an even bigger obstacle to attendance and learning.  In her recent article “The smell of burning blood haunted us,” published in TES magazine, Angeline Murimirwa, CAMFED alumna and Regional Executive Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, provides a very personal account of the indignities menstruating girls face.

“At my school, girls were required to perform ‘burning duties’ of any protection used on the previous day…The lingering smell of burning blood would haunt you all day, while the boys would jocularly confront you and accuse you of ‘burning babies’.”

“I’m from a very resource-poor area of rural Zimbabwe, where marginalized girls and women are excluded from many things — but not from normal biological changes. For those who struggle to afford food, school fees, or a school uniform, the cost of sanitary pads — around $24 a year — is simply out of reach.

I recall being so angry when my period arrived, swearing under my breath, ‘It never rains but it pours. As if it’s not enough for me to worry about how to afford bath and laundry soap…’ The money I needed to buy products for just three days a month was equivalent to the amount we paid for a three-day supply of grain for the whole family.”

Read the full article in Angeline’s blog.

Help us support girls to have the knowledge and the supplies to enter womanhood with confidence and pride, not fear and embarrassment.

Camfed’s Angeline Murimirwa in rural Zimbabwe

Angeline (in the white t-shirt) not long after she graduated and founded the CAMFED alumnae network, CAMA


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