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Achieving Gender Equality in Schools - Raleigh International

Achieving Gender Equality in Schools

Improving WASH Facilities to Support Menstrual Hygiene Management

We are working on a WASH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene) project in Kilombero and Kongwa. An essential part of the project is building new toilets and sanitation facilities for village primary schools. These facilities will have a particular room for girls to manage their periods. This room will have a bathroom, washing facilities, an incinerator, and locks to ensure privacy and comfort.

To understand more about issues facing girls in the education system, we spoke to teachers from the schools where we are currently working; Reinfrida Stanslaus Mhako is a teacher and leader of the SWASH (School WASH) club in Ichonde village in Kilombero District. Dominick Michael Kanyadenge is a teacher and leader of the SWASH club in Matanga village, Kongwa District. Jowanitha Andrea Mtelevu is the only female teacher at Mvungurumo primary school, Kongwa District.

a picture of a wall with a sunflower, butterfly and writings painted on it

Mural painted onto the wall of new MHM room in Matanga


What are the challenges girls face in school?

“The rate of girls who complete their studies compared to boys is low because girls have a lot of housework to do. Menstruation is also a big problem because girls often cannot attend classes. Early marriage is another issue. These kinds of things cause it to be difficult for girls to complete their education successfully.” Reinfrida, Ichonde village

“In terms of their ability to learn, there is no difference to boys; many of the girls perform better. However, it is more difficult for girls to complete their education here. The girls at the school here try hard to be present in school even when they are on their period, but some find it difficult, and some aren’t able to attend. Also, the secondary schools are far from here, and some are boarding schools. Families are less likely to allow the girls to leave home.” Jowanitha, Mvungurumo village

The Importance of MHM Rooms in Supporting Girls’ Education

How will the MHM room help

“The MHM room is handy because previously, girls on their period would get permission to be at home, but now the MHM room will reduce the need to be at home. Also, the girls will be motivated to come to school and study hard because the toilets and MHM room are excellent and make them feel valued.” Reinfrida, Ichonde village

“I think the special MHM room for the girls will stop them from missing school during their period. The girls are often shy and embarrassed, and if they don’t have a place to clean themselves or change at school, it is easy for them to stay at home. They will now come to school because they have this private space on the school site. I also believe that Raleigh being here has helped people to understand the value of education.” Dominick, Matanga village

Why girls need to have female role models such as teachers?

“Yes, my teacher who taught me was my role model. I loved learning from her, and she encouraged me to pursue a teaching career.” Reinfrida, Ichonde village

“I think the children here really appreciate having a female teacher. During their menstruation, girls are free to talk to me, which is important, and I feel privileged to be working here as a woman and a teacher.” Jowanitha, Mvungurumo village

a local woman in a colorful dress smiling for the camera

Walimu (Teacher) Jowanitha Andrea Mtelevu in the classroom at Mvungurumo Primary School

“It was much more difficult for girls to get an education when I was young; nowadays, things are changing. Many girls live in this village, so the government ensures that all children attend school regardless of gender. We are also now seeing women being elected to parliament. Even the vice-president of Tanzania is now a woman. Having female leaders shows girls what they can achieve.” Jowanitha, Mvungurumo village

a group of children sitting on the ground in a circle in Tanzania

The Future of Girls’ Education in Tanzania

Volunteers explaining the MHM room to girls in Mageseni, Kongwa

Our hope for the villages in which we are working is that young girls will benefit from the increased opportunity to complete their education in a safe and conducive environment. The MHM rooms will allow girls to attend school when they otherwise might not and demonstrate to the community the importance of girls being in school.

“With programs like this one from Raleigh, it is reaching a time where all girls are free and confident to attend school, participate in discussions, give answers, participate in debates, and compete academically without fear or shame. I think that girls in Tanzania are much more capable than people think, and now we have started to see this. The future is promising.” Jowanitha, Mvungurumo village

Check out our Impact page for more information on the impact Raleigh International has made so far by working alongside locals.

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