A project by three Kufuor Scholars seeking to encourage good menstrual hygiene in rural Ghana has been awarded $5,000 startup funds, at the 2018 Clinton Global Initiative University conference in the USA.
Menarche Initiative (Menarche-I) is a social venture working to ensure good menstrual hygiene among girls and also to sensitize the general public the issue. It was founded by students Norbert Kwame Agbemenu, Edem Kojo Doe, and Felicity Yeboah Dokyi.
The Kufuor scholars were part of about 1,200 students selected out of over 10,000 applicants worldwide to attend the 2018 Clinton Global Initiative University leadership conference in Chicago, Illinois – USA, hosted by former US President Bill Clinton and daughter Chelsea Clinton.
140 of the 1,200 students participated in a competitive process by the Resolution Project, a not-for-profit organisation which develops socially responsible young leaders around the world, to receive funding. Menarche-I was part of the final 10 that were awarded with the seed funding.
A citation presented to Menarche-I noted the: “Resolution Fellowship is presented to socially responsible leaders for outstanding dedication to making positive change and helping others today and for lifelong commitment to sustainable impact, innovation, collaboration and social responsibility.”
The Kufuor scholars noted; “this was the most rigorous application we have ever participated in. It was in three steps and we used up to three months to complete it.”
Menarche-I is an initiative to sensitize Ghanaians on menstruation and its management and equip adolescent girls in rural areas in Ghana with the right and accurate information on menstrual hygiene management. Menarche- I will also train peer counsellors in beneficiary schools to address absenteeism and subsequent school drop-out which is associated with poor menstrual hygiene management among girls. The project is to roll out in all regions in Ghana, starting with a pilot project in the Effutu Municipality.
“This conference afforded me great exposure and the opportunity to meet other young leaders across the world and form meaningful partnerships for the successful implementation of Menarche-I as well as acquisition diverse and crucial ideas and knowledge,” Felicity Yeboah Dokyi who is Project Cordinator at Menarche-I said.
“It’s exciting to know that all of the hard work has paid off and we have gotten some money to kickstart the project. You know somebody is enthused about the project. So this is very encouraging. It will encourage me to want to do more,” Ms. Yeboah Dokyi who is a 21-year-old fourth-year medical school at the University of Ghana explained.
The Kufuor Scholars Programme (KSP) is an initiative of the John A. Kufuor Foundation established by former President John Kufuor after stepping down as president to mentor young leaders. Ms. Yeboah Dokyi says she and her colleagues got the inspiration to embark on this project from former President Kufuor himself.
“At KSP, we are constantly reminded that you should give back to your community but you don’t necessarily need to have all the money to do that. On one of our visits to the former president, he spoke to us about being passionate about humanity. So myself, Edem and Norbert were all looking forward to doing something and then we came up with this idea,” she said.
Ms. Yeboah Dokyi hopes the project will help ensure quality development of the girl child in rural areas. “Some girls drop out of school and some absent themselves consistently just because of menstruation and it affects their education. It affects their self-esteem. Some also lack menstrual absorbents because of their low financial background so they tend to use rags. Some don’t want to stand and talk in class because they are afraid of leakages,” she explained.
“So we want to keep the girls in school irrespective of them menstruating or not because it is a natural phenomenon that shouldn’t stop anybody. Mensuration shouldn’t restrict our girls from going to school. And we want to break the silent culture regarding menstruation. In some of these areas, it’s virtually a taboo to talk about it and we want to break that,” Ms. Yeboah Dokyi noted.