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UNESCO HIV and Health Education Clearinghouse

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  1. The precocious period: the impact of early menarche on schooling in India

    Improvements in childhood nutrition increase schooling and economic returns in later life in a virtuous cycle. However, better nutrition also leads to an earlier onset of menstruation (menarche). In socio-cultural contexts where menarche adversely affects educational attainments, early menarche can thus break the virtuous cycle of girls’ human development. This paper focuses on one such context, India, and uses the Young Lives Longitudinal Study to show that starting menses before age twelve causes a 13% decrease in school enrollment rate. …

  2. The effects of adolescent childbearing on literacy and numeracy in Bangladesh, Malawi, and Zambia

    Global investments in girls’ education have been motivated, in part, by an expectation that more-educated women will have smaller and healthier families. However, in many low- and middle-income countries, the timing of school dropout and first birth coincide, resulting in a rapid transition from the role of student to the role of mother for adolescent girls. Despite growing interest in the effects of pregnancy on levels of school dropout, researchers have largely overlooked the potential effect of adolescent childbearing on literacy and numeracy. …

  3. The association between being currently in school and HIV prevalence among young women in nine eastern and southern African countries

    Interventions to keep adolescent girls and young women in school, or support their return to school, are hypothesised to also reduce HIV risk. Such interventions are included in the DREAMS combination package of evidence-based interventions. Although there is evidence of reduced risky sexual behaviours, the impact on HIV incidence is unclear. We used nationally representative surveys to investigate the association between being in school and HIV prevalence.

  4. Violence against women and girls and education

    Violence in schools and amongst school children is widespread and impacts educational attainment, health and wellbeing. However, schools also provide opportunities for preventing violence, learning about gender equality and respectful relationships, and even reducing violence at home and in future relationships. …

  5. Pupil absenteeism, measurement, and menstruation: Evidence from Kenya

    Impact evaluations focused on school absenteeism commonly use school records of untested quality or expensive spot-check data. We use a large dataset on more than 30,000 unannounced random spot-checks for 6,000 female and male students across 30 schools in Western Kenya, with equivalent school record entries. First, we confirm that while absenteeism is common overall, pubescent girls miss more schooldays than boys because of high incidence of school transfers. …

  6. "It's not normal": sexual exploitation, harassment and abuse in secondary schools in Senegal

    “It’s not normal” documents how female students are exposed to sexual exploitation, harassment, and abuse in middle and upper secondary schools. Based on interviews and focus group discussions with more than 160 girls and young women, the report documents cases of teachers who abuse their position of authority by sexually harassing girls and engage in sexual relations with them, promising students money, good grades, food, or items such as mobile phones and new clothes. …

  7. Jamaica’s policy for the school reintegration of school-age mothers. How are we doing and where do we need to go?

    This paper examines the prevalence of teenage pregnancy in Jamaica, the girls most affected, and where and when they are most vulnerable. The paper also discusses the provisions for continuing education under the National Policy for the Reintegration of School-Age Mothers into the Formal School System. It assesses whether the policy is reaching the target group and its effectiveness in addressing access to secondary education for teen mothers.

  8. Leave no girl behind in Africa: discrimination in education against pregnant girls and adolescent mothers

    This report provides information on the status of laws, policies, and practices that block or support pregnant or married girls’ access to education. It also provides recommendations for much-needed reforms.

  9. Menstruation and menstrual hygiene management in selected KwaZulu-Natal schools

    The focus of this study was on the impact of menstruation and menstrual hygiene management on girl learners in schools in the Province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Issues related to cultural practices, teachings about menstruation, access to sanitary supplies necessary during menstruation and to sanitation, as well as psychological trauma, particularly at menarche (the time of their first menstruation), were looked at. The study also attempted to capture the feelings and experiences of learners and their knowledge at menarche.

  10. Menarche and its implications for educational policy in Peru

    Indigenous girls in rural areas live in the most extreme poverty and make up the least educated groups in Peru. These girls face numerous constraints to obtaining an education. Enrollment rates are lower for girls in rural areas, and their grade repetition rates are higher than those for boys. Adolescence is particularly difficult, as girls face a number of risks during this time. Once they begin menstruation, completing their primary school education is a formidable challenge, and opportunities for advancing to secondary school are limited. …

  11. Menstrual hygiene management among Bangladeshi adolescent schoolgirls and risk factors affecting school absence: results from a cross-sectional survey

    Background: Many adolescent girls in low-income and middle-income countries lack appropriate facilities and support in school to manage menstruation. Little research has been conducted on how menstruation affects school absence. This study examines the association of menstrual hygiene management knowledge, facilities and practice with absence from school during menstruation among Bangladeshi schoolgirls. Methods: We conducted a nationally representative, cross-sectional study in Bangladeshi schools from March to June 2013 among girls 11 to 17 years old who reached menarche. …

  12. Are schools safe and gender equal places? Findings from a baseline study of school related gender-based violence in five countries in Asia

    This report presents findings from a baseline study carried out in specific districts of five Asian countries: Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan and Vietnam, as part of a programme to address School Related Gender based Violence (SRGBV) in the region. Tilted Promoting Equality and Safety in Schools (PEASS), this regional programme has an overarching goal to make the ‘education systems in Asia gender responsive with zero-tolerance to SRGBV’, and is a joint initiative of Plan International and the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW). …

  13. A time for global action: addressing girls' menstrual hygiene management needs in schools

    Summary Points: There is an absence of guidance, facilities, and materials for schoolgirls to manage their menstruation in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Formative evidence has raised awareness that poor menstrual hygiene management (MHM) contributes to inequity, increasing exposure to transactional sex to obtain sanitary items, with some evidence of an effect on school indicators and with repercussions for sexual, reproductive, and general health throughout the life course. …

  14. The Last Taboo. Research on menstrual hygiene management in the Pacific: Solomon Islands, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea. Final report

    Managing menstruation effectively and with dignity can be challenging for girls and women in low and middle-income countries. Currently there is limited research on menstrual hygiene management (MHM) in the Pacific region. This report presents general findings from research funded through the Australian Government, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), including its innovationXchange. It represents collaboration between DFAT’s Pacific Division and DFAT’s innovationXchange following an internal DFAT Ideas Challenge. …

  15. Menstruation as a barrier to education?

    Increasing education for girls is an important policy priority in many developing countries, where secondary school enrollment often remains lower for girls than for boys. Some researchers and policymakers have argued that menstruation may be causing girls to miss a significant number of school days. At the maximum, some have estimated that girls might be missing as much as 10 to 20 percent of school days due to menstruation. Anecdotal evidence seems to support this. Girls report missing school during their periods and lacking access to modern sanitary products. …

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