Dubai: Dubai Cares, part of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, has launched a new programme in Zimbabwe titled ‘WASH UP! Girl Talk’, in partnership with Sesame Workshop.
The Dh3.4-million ($952,000) programme aims to empower primary school-aged children to practise and promote healthy water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) behaviour, particularly around menstrual health. The two-year programme is set to impact a total of 25,000 girls aged 10 to 12.
The programme focuses on water practices, safe latrine use, proper hand-washing, personal hygiene, food hygiene behaviour and health promotion. It also integrates girls’ education and addresses the issue of menstrual hygiene education, which can influence whether girls consistently attend and remain in school. The programme is being implemented in 200 schools in 12 regions across Zimbabwe.
Annina Mattsson, programmes director at Dubai Cares, said: “Illness caused by inadequate access to hygiene and sanitation facilities continues to be a barrier to education for many children, especially girls, across Zimbabwe. Lack of public awareness, combined with low investment in WASH, leads to inequities within schools. Through this new programme, Dubai Cares strives not only to improve WASH facilities within targeted schools, but also raise awareness and educate schoolchildren and communities on how they can enhance healthy hygiene behaviour, knowledge and practice.”
In addition, the programme includes teacher training and material development, as well as the development of a brand new character for promoting contextually appropriate menstrual hygiene education.
Shari Rosenfeld, senior vice-president, International Social Impact, Sesame Workshop, said: “Gender equity and girls’ education are at the heart of Sesame Workshop’s global initiatives, and we know that girls in developing regions are disproportionately affected by a range of water, sanitation, and hygiene issues. One in ten girls in sub-Saharan Africa misses up to 20 per cent of the school year because of menstruation, and many girls are at risk of dropping out of school altogether — especially when they lack accurate information about menstrual health. This WASH UP! expansion will harness the power of Sesame’s beloved characters to deliver stigma-fighting menstrual hygiene management lessons and empower girls in rural Zimbabwe at the critical developmental moment when they’re most likely to fall out of the education system.”