News Story

Young Girls in Ghana Benefit from Church Campaign for Improving Female Hygiene

Young female students in Ghana, especially those in underdeveloped areas, often miss school during menstrual cycles, because they cannot afford to buy sanitary pads. A determined woman from a non-profit organization teamed up with the women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the area to change that unfortunate situation.     

Bernice Frimpong Ankrah, also a member of the Church, has found that many girls drop out of school, which is the key to better standards of living, due to absences.

A 14-year-old girl at St. Patrick’s Anglican school, shared her experience. “Sometimes I do not have money to buy pads and my parents do not have money, so I just use a rag. Because of that I do not come to school.”

“These schoolgirls are consistently missing four to five days every month of the term, hence contributing to high dropout rates for girls,” said Naana Jane Opoku Agyeman, a minister professor in Ghana. Many girls miss up to 3 months of school every year, News Generation reported.    

Ankrah soon learned about Days for Girls, a non-governmental organization based in the U.S., that aims to improve the lives of underprivileged urban adolescent girls who do not have regular access to safe and hygienic menstrual practices by distributing free and reusable sanitary kits to them. Ankrah decided to take the initiative to establish the same program in Ghana. She is currently serving as the project manager and ambassador for Days for Girls in Ghana. 

Since she couldn’t do it all alone, she turned to the women of the Church that she attends. In a bid to help solve this issue together, over a hundred Latter-day Saints women from Relief Society (the Church’s organization for women) groups in the Tesano Stake (a stake is a group of Latter-day Saints congregations, similar to diocese) gathered on Friday, December 5, 2014, for a charitable service project to cut, sew and package hygienic and reusable sanitary pads for Days for Girls.

Emelia Tandoh, who participated in the service, talked about her experience. “I am very happy that I have been able to help sew something that will help other people in society.”
“I never really thought there were people who have such challenges,” said Sister Kumayo, a missionary serving for the Church. “I am very impressed with Bernice Ankrah’s actions. It is very interesting how she has been able to find a need in the community and to focus on that need by being creative.” 

Hundreds of adolescent girls in Ghana since then are receiving quality education in feminine hygiene solutions and awareness, a key to social change for women all over the world.  
Below is an interview the Ghana Newsroom conducted with Bernice Frimpong Ankrah about her motivation to be part of this service project.

Can you tell us how you became involved in this project?

Mrs. Ankrah: 
I had a friend from the U.S.A. who came to Ghana last February. I learned that she has an organization which produces reusable sanitary towels in the states. I therefore asked her to send me some of the kits to share with my young women. When she brought them to me, she asked why they cannot be made in Ghana. So she sent [sewing] machines, materials, and fabrics to Ghana and I started making them myself.

How did you become motivated to continue this project?

Mrs. Ankrah: 
Being a Young Women (Church’s organization for women ages 12-18) leader in our church, and a mother as well, I know the needs of girls during certain times of the month. During this period, girls, especially those in underdeveloped towns and villages in Ghana, absent themselves from school because they simply cannot afford to buy the disposable sanitary pads in the market. Hence this results in using all types of harmful unhygienic materials during their menstrual cycles. When I realized that this Days for Girls sanitary kit could be used, washed, reused and will last for as long as three years, I thought of the girls in the villages and asked myself why I should not be part of this great cause and help these girls. So that is how I became motivated to be the ambassador and manage the project here in Ghana.

What is the purpose of Days for Girls?

Mrs. Ankrah: 
The purpose is to allow adolescent girls living in the deprived villages to have access to free hygienic reusable sanitary kits, enabling them to improve their personal hygiene and attendance at school. 

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