The Sri Lankan Government in a first has said that it will provide free, locally made pads to about 800,000 schoolgirls. The project will prioritise children in more impoverished rural areas and build toilet facilities in 2,500 schools. It could transform girls’ learning.
More than half of the adolescents responding to a Unicef study in 2015 did not want or weren’t allowed to go to school during their periods, while 37% missed one or two school days each month. For most, fear of staining, pain, and discomfort were the main reasons for not going to school. For many communities, menstruation still remains a taboo; 60% of school teachers in Sri Lanka think period blood is impure.
“It’s a great step, depending on how we implement it,” says Nayanathara Jayathilaka, a student social worker from Galkiriyagama, a village 100 miles from the capital, Colombo.