What does the International Day of the girl child in Burkina Faso look like?
The story of three Mandela Fellows.
This year, three ladies in Burkina Faso decided to leave their mark on the International Day of the girl Child. On October 11, 2019 instead of enjoying the week-end in Ouagadougou as usually Benedicte Toe, Mariama Maiga and Nathalie Bayala, all alumni of Mandela Washington Fellowship, decided to travel to Bagré, a department of Boulgou Province located in eastern Burkina Faso. Their objective was to visit a group of young girls from modest backgrounds who each have dreams to achieve. These schoolchildren are between 15 and 18 and they do rice farming during holidays. Being vulnerable, they are exposed to many dangers such as early pregnancy, child marriage, genital mutilations.
Not having the necessary financial or material means to support the girls on their activities, the visitors decided to offer a support of different nature.
Menstrual hygiene is sometimes having some considerable consequences on girl’s wellbeing especially in rural Africa. In 2018, the UNICEF has estimated that roughly 1 in 10 girls in Africa miss school because of their periods each year. Some case studies conducted in 2013 in Burkina Faso and Niger (both countries of Francophone West Africa) on Menstrual Hygiene in Schools by UNICEF, showed that:
· The school WASH facilities were inadequate for girls to safely manage their menses;
· School children lack knowledge and information on menstruation as MHM is taught too late;
· Menstruation affects girls’ participation and performance at school, the majority of the girls feels shy or stressed at school during menstruation and participate less due to shame, fatigue or pain.
In light of this context, the three alumni of Mandela Fellowship found it necessary to raise girls awareness on the topic.
They also brought samples of reusable pads from the U.S that they donated to them with the objective to reproduce it locally. A testing production unit is already in place and managed by one of the Fellows.
The group of Young African Leaders also initiated a mentoring program where they will be the main mentors for girls. They also intend to find more mentors for connection.
This paper is the beginning of a nice story between three Mandela Fellows and a group of schoolgirls in Bagré. The best is yet to come.