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By Dr. Harriet Sakala, FAWEZA Alumni

From the Executive

"Breaking the Silence on Girls' Menstruation" Campaign in Kigali

Friday, 26 March 2010

Breaking the Silence 2FAWE Rwanda, in association with RAUW (Rwanda Association of University Women), NDA (New Dawn Associates), SHE (Sustainable Health Enterprises) and Plan Rwanda, organized a very special and original event on 26th March from 1:30 to 3:00 pm at the ‘petit stade’ to encourage girls to take hold of their menstruation period in school.

The purpose of this event is to create awareness on the fact that many girls and women are frequently absent from school and work in developing countries because they lack health, hygiene, education and sustained access to affordable high quality sanitary pads. This function broguht together policy makers, international organizations, universities, schools, parents and students.

Breaking the silence

  1. Ann MUGABO, the Director General of Employment in MIFOTRA (Labor Ministry) and Vice President of RAUW gave her testimony; “I first had her period while at school (P6). Once at home, I wore a heavy sweater which burnt her the next day. When I saw messages about this campaign on RAUW d-group, I just remembered my own experience and was concerned about the way little girls in the same situation are handling it nowadays.”
  2. Shirley RANDELL broke the silence giving her testimony. “I was 11 years old when I first saw my first menstruations. I Took my time to wash the fabric of what I was wearing to the point that no single drop remained on the cloth before laying them on the sun…….(shame..). It was a very painful thing to do as I remember.”


  1. The Minister of culture Joseph HABINEZA in his speech advised that we keep talking about such subjects that are considered as taboo to help reduce the risks for health and girls absenteeism. He also promised to help sensitize in schools, markets and in churches so as to help for population awareness. He proposed his help in writing a petition on sanitary pads cost reduction.
  2. PLAN RWANDA representative after explaining briefly the program of the organization which include youth empowerment, girls education and child rights advocacy, claimed:”we have been searching for partners for years, now we found them in you”.
  3. Donatha GIHANA (FAWE) is going to sensitize and educate girls on issues related to menstruation using the TUSEME clubs in both Gisozi and Gahini FAWE COEs.
  4. One of the participants suggested that all participants take an action in poor a neighborhood by buying some pads for girls in need before bigger funds are raised for larger actions.
  5. Senator UMULISA Henriette encouraged the audience to keep on sharing problems so as she takes notes for further advocacy in the parliament where they put people’s concerns at the center of their priorities.
  6. Aline MUKABALISA IRAMBONA the representative of the National women council encouraged the audience to break the silence in respective families and promised that her institution shall continue advocating.
  7. Angelique DUSABE, a Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) commissioner and representative told us how sanitary pads can cost about 300 Rwf if the taxes are removed. She reminded us that the decision to remove taxes comes from top leaders.
  8. Mary SANO from DFID said she was going to report to her Social Development Advisor and see what their organization can do for the campaign.
  9. Sidonie UWIMPUHWE from CNLS suggested that we do a 2 $/month campaign in order to collect enough pads for poorest girls.
  10. Patrick MICO from Gender monitoring office had these ideas of
    • Sensitizing heads of families ( fathers) in taking this issue as their own and don’t leave its responsibility to the female partner (mothers)only and
    • Add up sanitary pads in the package given to OVC’s children (for the organizations working with them).
    • Stating a day in a year when all concerned organizations should sit together in an evaluation session of different activities conducted within the year.


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