My team was pleased to see today that Mrs. Elizabeth Agyeman of the Oforikrom Constituency in the Ghanaian Parliament has advocated that the government supply sanitary pads to poor schoolgirls there. Mrs. Agyeman is following the lead of Uhuru Kenyata in Kenya, who has announced that school girls will be provided with pad in his country. Mrs. Agyeman commented that one could see girls in Ghana with blood on their skirts, who clearly did not have or know how to use sanitary pads. Another member of Parliament, Catherine Afeku, said that the bigger issue was surmounting the social barriers to girls education. She is right that the attitudes that keep girls from achieving will have to change. But I agree with Mrs. Agyeman when she argued that even little contributions toward this major effort are important. It is my belief that the campaign to change the beliefs and attitudes of parents may take a generation or more. Putting the means to stay in school in the hands of the girls themselves, by making it possible to attend without shame during their periods, will work faster. The important positive effects that girls’ education has on a population’s growth rate, disease rate, infant mortality, and many other important vectors can make a very rapid difference in a nation’s future. Any small investment that can be shown effective should be made, rather than wait for attitudes to change that may never budge.
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