Following the visit of FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura to South Sudan in 2021, FIFA in February 2022, in cooperation with the South Sudan FA, has launched a pilot project: Menstrual Hygiene and Education for Girls and Women Playing Football.
In South Sudan, 70% of girls and women do not have access to hygiene products such as sanitary pads or tampons. Lack of access and means to obtain sanitary products creates challenges for the girls in the country to regularly attend school and practice sports.
This is where FIFA’s Menstrual Health and Education through Football pilot project in South Sudan comes in. It aims to strengthen the capacity of women’s football at grassroots level and encourage girls’ participation in the sport whilst educating them about menstrual hygiene and providing them with reusable sanitary products.
As part of this project, a Girls Interschool Tournament took place in May. Girls from 27 primary schools across Juba City came together to participate in an inter-school tournament. This was the second activity in which the Menstrual Health and Education component was incorporated, following the Women´s Football Cup competition that launched the programme in February 2022.
“I am very excited that this project is happening through SSFA and the support from FIFA. Building women’s football and especially from the grassroots is our priority. We have shifted much of our attention towards building stronger women’s football pathways, particularly from the grassroots,” said SSFA President Augustino Maduot
“I am very happy to see these little girls showcasing their talents, something most of them never had a chance to experience. I believe with much effort and support, we shall soon see a new era of women’s football in the country,” he added.
Following the event, the girls were educated about menstrual hygiene and those already experiencing their cycle were given reusable sanitary pads and taught how to use them.
“The menstrual hygiene project is a pilot project that FIFA was kind enough to bring to South Sudan. I believe it is the first of its kind. And yes, it is hugely important for us because if you look at the poverty line in a country like South Sudan, 80-82% of the people in that country are below that line and live on two dollars a day,” explains Shilene Booysen, coach of the country’s women’s national team.
“This project is really eye-opening and gives us a platform to create more ambassadors for the programme, but also to raise awareness of the problem that female athletes and women in general face in this country.”
Arijana Demirovic, FIFA’s Head of Women’s Football Development, was also pleased with the successful implementation of the project, which not only focuses on girls’ participation in sport but also aims to educate them about menstrual hygiene.
“We are really encouraged to see the success of this project so far and the power that football has to help create a healthier environment for girls and women of South Sudan, providing more opportunities to participate in football activities”, said Demirovic.
“This pilot project allows the member association to build capacities locally and empower girls to educate themselves, but also become ambassadors in the community to make sure the next generations that follow them can see a clearer pathway within football.”
Next activity that will encompass the Menstrual Health and Education aspect is the Women´s Senior League. The winner will qualify for the regional phase of the CAF Women’s Champions League 2022.
These activities will allow SSFA and FIFA to evaluate the progress of the project and plan for further implementation of the similar programme in the region and beyond.