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Education for Young Girls

Preventing Harassment of and Drop-out Rates Among Girls During Menstruation by Building Safe Latrines at School

At Cyarwa high school, 40 of 1500 female students dropped out last year because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable using the restroom at school. There is only one set of latrines that are shared by all students and teachers, and boys watch the girls while they used the restroom. If boys see blood on the floor of the toilet stall, they sometimes accuse the girls of having abortions. This is highly embarrassing for those girls, and they begin to stay home from school one week a month during menstruation. Not even teachers are spared from this harassment; the 30 of the 37 female staff members sneak to a private area to relieve themselves but the area quickly becomes unhygienic and acquires a bad odor. Shared latrines cause menstruation to become a complex and stressful problem for all females at the school, leading many girls to miss school. These absences cause them to fall behind and fail their classes, often resulting in dropping out of school altogether.

This team of 35, including 7 men, has set out to build separate latrines for females and males so that boys cannot harass girls or teachers. Just as important, they aim to educate, empower and inspire the community about the importance of education for girls, provide hygienic materials to girls, and teach the students about reproductive health.

Education for Young Girls was part of the 2010 Academy for Conscious Change and they launched their venture in 2011. They have built girls-only latrines as well as a washing station and they are measuring their impact on girls staying in school. Meanwhile, they have trained 540 students about reproductive health and preventing unwanted pregnancies, and have been working to change the social attitudes that undervalue girls education.

Before long, this team began to see another connection: When girls dropped out of school, they often ended up in prostitution. The team made strategic partnerships with local leaders who have begun supervising bars to ensure that teenage girls are not allowed to spend time there in the company of older men. If bars are caught allowing this, local leaders have vowed to shut them down. Education for Young Girls has also worked with local businessmen to create jobs and have helped 40 women leave prostitution.

Project Details

Education for Young Girls

Location: Cyarwa, Kigali City
Team Members: 35
Beneficiaries: 2000 students, 1000 parents, 500 community members and youth drop-outs, and 100 sex workers
Launched: 2010

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