Leicestershire charity backs life-changing manufacturing plant in Uganda

Students from Mackay College School, Nateete, Uganda at the launch of the Keep a Girl In School campaign

A charitable foundation established by a well-known Leicestershire businessman has partnered with the Ugandan Red Cross Society to build a manufacturing plant for re-usable sanitary pads, helping to improve the lives of around 50,000 people.

The Randal Charitable Foundation has provided “significant” grant funding for the plant in Namakwa, Mukono district of Uganda, which is also expected to create over 200 employment opportunities.

Once fully established the plant will manufacture 200,000 re-usable pads per year – the equivalent of 50,000 4-pad packs. Around 20% of the pads will be given to 10,000 vulnerable school attenders free of charge. The remaining 80% will be sold in the wider community at a subsidised price to ensure the longevity of the plant.

Dr Nik Kotecha OBE DL, founder and chair of trustees of the Randal Charitable Foundation, said: “Our mission is to directly save and significantly improve the lives of the most vulnerable in society in the UK and globally.

“This project is so beneficial to the community because without access to high quality sanitary pads and toilets, or washrooms for changing, many girls and women are not able to go far from their homes.

“The consequence of this is that they often cannot attend school, and in many cases become trapped in their homes unable to earn a living to support their families.

“We are delighted with our partnership with the Ugandan Red Cross Society because the manufacturing facility will have the dual benefits of ensuring girls are able to stay in school to gain a good education, and in many cases a future free of extreme poverty. It will also deliver sustainable skilled employment to the women and girls involved in the production and sale of the pads.”

The project is part of a collaboration between the Uganda Red Cross Society (URCS) and the Ministry of Education & Sports and partners, which in 2019 launched a countrywide initiative named Keep a Girl in School. The project aims to improve menstrual health management amongst adolescents at schools in vulnerable communities.

During the implementation of the project, URCS is partnering with She for She, an indigenous organisation whose goal is to ensure that every person who menstruates can attend school by improving access to pads and providing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights education.

Robert Kwesiga, secretary general of the Uganda Red Cross Society, said: “I would like to thank the Randal Charitable Foundation for their significant support for the humanitarian cause to keep more girls in school through manufacturing, good sanitation, and provision of pads.

“As a result of a lack of access to hygienic sanitary wear, girls and women in the community often resort to using inappropriate materials such as rugs torn from their old clothes, papers, pieces of old mattress foam and leaves. And in some cases, in rural communities, they become house bound, and forced to sit over a hole dug in the middle of their mud floors until the menstrual flow ends. School going girls who get blood on their clothes are also often teased by teachers, boys, or other girls, and this has been reported as a significant cause of school dropouts for girls.”