Education and Sports Minister, Janet Museveni has expressed reservations about Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) spearheading the distribution of sanitary pads to school children without involving the ministry.
She was responding to suggestions by the Education Committee Chaired by Connie Nakayenze Galiwango, the Mbale Woman MP on the need for the Education Ministry to regulate the distribution of sanitary pads to school children.
The Committee members expressed concern that NGOs distributing the sanitary pads to children deal directly with school without involving the ministry. According to the Education minister, although not many NGOs are involved in the free sanitary pads distribution exercise, there is need for the ministry to be involved to ensure the pads are appropriate for children.
The Education Committee members including Allan Ssewanyana, the Makindye West MP, Moses Kasibante, Rubaga North and Joseph Ssewungu, Kalungu West demanded an explanation from the Education Minister why the provision of free sanitary pads to girls remains unfunded in the 2017/2018 financial year budget.
Ssewanyana asked the Minister to state the government position on the free sanitary pad distribution, saying it has generated public anxiety. Kasibante appealed to the Education Ministry not to discourage those involved in free sanitary pads distribution, since government has failed to honor its pledge.
In her response, the first lady noted that although she is aware of the importance of the sanitary pads to the girl child, many areas in the Education sector remain unfunded because of budgetary constraints.
The jailed Makerere University Research fellow, Dr. Stella Nyanzi kick started the free sanitary pad distribution to schools after government backtracked on its promise to provide pads to school children citing lack of money.
During his 2016 re-election campaigns, President Yoweri Museveni pledged to provide free sanitary pads to school children as one of the ways to boost girl child education. The free sanitary pad distribution exercise was expected to start in the new financial year. However, the Education Ministry backtracked on the promise, saying there is no money.
This prompted Dr. Nyanzi to kick start a campaign under the theme “Pads For Girl Child Uganda” to fundraise money to buy pads and distribute them to schools. The campaign attracted several people including women rights activists and NGOs, which saw the distribution of re-usable and disposable sanitary pads to various school girls.