A Data-Driven Platform for Menstrual Hygiene Management
Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) is practiced according to cultural, social, educational, and economic norms of a community. According to a 2014 study of 12 Secondary Schools in the Kinondoni District of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, young schoolgirls frequently receive minimal instruction on MHM and find it difficult to acquire necessary information and support either at home from their parents/guardians or at school from their teachers.
The study revealed that the limited information girls were able to obtain about MHM came through word of mouth from friends, with mothers being the next most common source. None of the schools surveyed had educational materials or curriculum related to MHM. The study further revealed a lack of changing facilities for girls and emergency menstrual hygiene products at schools. It was also evident that boys, male teachers, and even male heads of school were completely unaware of girls’ menstruation needs.
Girls get Information about hygiene and menstruation mostly from friends and family members (mother/sister)
Many girls are forced to skip classes from 4 to 7 days every month, which adds up to 80 days in a year, due to a lack of proper facilities at schools, their inability to track their period, and social stigma including teasing by boys. Skipping classes frequently paves a way to dropping out of school.
Tausi Jukwaa (“Peacock Platform”) is a platform that will increase awareness on MHM and help map and generate data about the status of MHM facilities among schools across Tanzania. The platform includes:
- Menstruation Cycle Tracking Tool: This is the calculator which allows both public users and students at school to track their periods and sends an SMS reminder to either a student’s mobile phone or to her parents’/guardians’.
- MHM Facilities Monitoring Tool: Teachers and school officials can indicate the facilities available at a school to support MHM, including toilets, running water, changing rooms, waste disposal areas, sanitary pads, and medicine.
- Question and Answer Portal: Allows girls to ask questions of MHM experts and receive a prompt reply.
- Articles, Publications and Stories: A resource for in-depth information, this repository can serve as a resource for teaching materials at schools on Menstrual Hygiene.
- Interactive and Educational Games Portal: Games measure understanding of menstrual hygiene.
- Data Portal: A trove of data on the status of MHM at schools will provide data for public use as well as more detailed data for use by teachers and school administrators.
Tausi Jukwaa is currently being piloted in Kinondoni Municipal Council, Dar es Salaam, with plans to scale up in the future.
Data on secondary schools in Tanzania were obtained from the Tanzania Open Data Portal and imported into the Tausi Jukwaa’s cloud-based platform, which operates in both Swahili and English. The platform possesses functions for non-registered users, including access to facility information, the information repository, the Q&A portal, and games. Users who chose to register, which they can do through a phone number, email address, or Facebook account, gain access to additional features such as the SMS-based reminder service. Although the school data is currently incomplete, Tausi Jukwaa and its users will fill-in missing information as the project progresses and gains more users.
The platform is now being tested by experts in health, education and WASH, as well as by students, teachers, and parents from Makongo Secondary School and Turiani Secondary School. From here, Tausi Jukwaa will expand to cover other schools in the Kinondoni Municipal Council and beyond with the ultimate goal of increasing community communication and awareness about MWH and decreasing the number of days of school missed and school dropouts.
Tausi Jukwaa has partnered with Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF), an established organization with a wide network, to reach more schools in Dar es Salaam. The project is also planning to increase user accessibility by creating a mobile platform to complement the online portal.