The Gendered Nature of Schooling in Ghana:
Hurdles to Girls’ Menstrual Management in School
This study aims to understand the intersection of menarche, menstrual management, and schooling for pubescent girls in Ghana.
The Gendered Nature of Schooling in Ghana: Hurdles to Girls’ Menstrual Management in School
Sommer, Marni and T. Ackatia-Armah
Sommer, Marni and T. Ackatia-Armah. 2012. “The Gendered Nature of Schooling in Ghana: Hurdles to Girls’ Menstrual Management in School.” Jenda 20: 63-79.
LMICs, Ghana, menarche, adolescents, school girls, education, awareness, puberty
Type of Research
Peer-reviewed, Qualitative research, Case study
- Girls were revealed to have a significant gap in knowledge about the onset of menses, and how to subsequently manage menses successfully and confidently in school. Although many girls did ultimately receive guidance from mothers or other elder women, many girls first experienced an acute period of fear about severe illness, along with anxiety about the onset of bleeding being misconstrued as a sign of promiscuous sexual behavior. This fear of sanctions kept many girls from sharing the information about their first period.
- Insufficient numbers and quality of latrines, lack of privacy and safety for managing menses, along with a shortage of water, were all emphasized as barriers to school attendance and participation. Lack of disposal facilities contributed to girls’ mismanagement of used menstrual materials, with implications for potential health hazards within the school environment, and additional stigma around being identified with by your used menses material.
- The challenges of not being able to easily manage menses comfortably and without risk of menstrual accidents in the classroom were compounded by the social fears of teasing and mocking by boys in the school.
- Capturing girls’ voiced experiences and recommendations was an essential component of the study described here, and one that is central to the recommendations that are described in the discussion. Although input from teachers, parents and health care workers are all critical to assuring the health and well-being, and successful academic achievement of girl students, it is the girls’ themselves who know best what is needed.
Identified Research Gaps
Further research on implementing and evaluating interventions for improving the school environment and growing up experiences of Ghanaian girls is strongly recommended.