No More School Absenteeism for Girls. Period.
Kinshasa, Haut-Katanga, and IDP Camps in North Kivu, The Democratic Republic of the Congo
Forcier is pleased to announce that in collaboration with our partner Catholic Relief Services, we have recently been awarded the Best Local Non-For-Profit Case Study by the ESOMAR Foundation in their “Making a Difference” competition. Our winning research was conducted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and aimed to assess the knowledge, attitudes, environment, and practices regarding menstruation and its effect on school absenteeism for girls.
Every month girls face an additional barrier to their education, their period. Our research highlighted one stark evidence:
"On average, one in four girls missed at least one day of school in the last three months due to menstruation."
This number was even higher in the more remote and rural settings within the DRC. For us, studying the relationship between menstruation and education means more than just attempting to understand absenteeism. Our goal was to provide strong field-based evidence to NGOs, the DRC government and all actors in the health and sanitation field. We believe that good research must go far beyond simple statistics, which is why we always choose to adopt a holistic approach to data collection and analysis. Which in this case included extensive research surrounding community attitudes, beliefs, and hard to see implications. We found that for girls, having their period implicates more than just missing school, it also means an increase in vulnerability to unwanted pregnancy, early child marriage, ridicule and parents withdrawing their daughters from school at an early age. All of these outcomes are major barriers to girls’ education and their overall ability to succeed in adulthood.
Surveying girls, the Right Way.
We teamed up with our partner Catholic Relief Services, with funds from UNICEF, to carry out 18 months of operational research to better understand the relationship between Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) and girls’ attendance at school in the provinces of Kinshasa and Haut-Katanga, as well as in camps for IDPs in North-Kivu. This allowed for a comprehensive analysis in urban, rural, and emergency contexts.
In order to garner a broad understanding of the different barriers menstrual hygiene can represent for women, it was essential to collect information from the various groups of people who can influence how girls and women manage their menses. Forcier designed a mixed methods approach, which included substantial quantitative surveying and qualitative interviews. In total, 2601 quantitative surveys were conducted with 10 to 17 year old girls and their female guardians and 1022 quantitative surveys were conducted with 10 to 17 year old boys. Additionally, to provide complementary qualitative information, 60 focus group discussions were conducted with girls, fathers of girls, teachers, community leaders and health practitioners. To ask questions to 10 to 15-year-old girls in camps for displaced persons, an especially vulnerable population, child psychiatrists used dice games to make them more comfortable discussing these issues and to overcome taboos about menses. It is by seeing research as more than just numbers, but through a holistic lens that allows Forcier to tailor surveys from the interviewee point of view to ensure data collection on sensitive topics is completed.
Forcier will be presenting the case study at the ESOMAR Conference in Berlin on September 23-26.
Forcier Consulting Group