International research in Uganda wins poster award
Two Mississippi State University faculty members recently received the Engagement Scholarship Consortium Conference Poster Award for their outstanding poster presented at the 17th Annual Conference of the Engagement Scholarship Consortium in Omaha, Nebraska.
College of Business Finance and Economics Professor Meghan Millea and College of Veterinary Medicine Epidemiology Professor Margaret Khaitsa’s poster won “Best Overall Poster Award” for their global research and humanitarian efforts in Eastern Uganda. The poster titled, Connecting Higher Education Institutions and Grass Root Women: A HERS-EA Case Study of Women Empowering Women through Re-usable Sanitary Pads in Eastern Uganda, displayed an international partnership with the Higher Education Resources Services, East Africa (HERS-EA), located at Makerere University in Uganda, Columbus State University, and MSU.
Specifically, the poster contributors included Millea, Khaitsa, Naomi Lumutenga (HERS-EA), Florence Wakoko-Studstill (Columbus State University and HERS-EA), and Ruth Muwazi, Irene Naigaga and Loyce Hamba (HERS-EA and Makerere University, Uganda).
The award-winning poster captured a grassroots initiative to address the debilitating physical and psychological menstruation challenges endured by women in Eastern Uganda. Without proper resources, such as affordable sanitary pads, women endure demeaning and humiliating treatment because of the lack of resources to properly manage menstruation.
The poster highlighted the impact of “Women Empowering Women through Re-usable Sanitary Pads” project, a successful interdisciplinary initiative that used re-usable sanitary pads as a means of addressing menstruation needs faced by girls and women unable to afford branded pads. The ultimate goal of the project focused on school retention rates of young girls.
“This project provided a research and outreach opportunity that linked women in higher education institutions in the US and Uganda with rural women in Eastern Uganda -- one of the goals of HERS-EA,” Khaitsa said.
“Also, the project generated areas for further research in education, sociology, business, technology and engineering, and HERS-EA in collaboration with MSU researchers who are actively seeking funding opportunities to expand this international collaboration including providing opportunities for student training,” she added.
This interdisciplinary project originated from an International Working Group grant facilitated through MSU’s International Research Development Office at the International Institute as a research initiative to empower rural women in entrepreneurial skills to produce and market low cost, hygienic, re-usable sanitary pads in their communities.
The ongoing project focused on training rural women in Bulambuli to train fellow women in Butaleja in small business management skills. HERS-EA researchers from Makerere University in partnership with AFRISA Institute collaborated with researchers from MSU’s Social Science Research Center, Human Sciences, and the College of Veterinary Medicine to conduct a pre-test and post-test in order to assess improvement in production and marketing of the sanitary pads.
“I am proud of Dr. Khaitsa and Dr. Millea because of their work and impact they accomplished with limited amount of funds,” Shauncey Hill, director of international research development, said.
“Projects like these demonstrate Mississippi State’s ability to solve problems around the world,” Hill added.
The success of the project created a network between school girls, rural women, and women in higher education institutions; equipped rural women in Bulambuli and Butaleja Ugandan districts with newly learned small business management skills using sanitary pads production; and, addressed the challenge of managing menstruation which is currently a factor in the high dropout rate of girls compared to boys at the primary and secondary school level.
The HERS-EA and MSU researchers also received support from the National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center (NSPARC) at MSU to scale up this project.
To view the winning poster, visit https://engagementscholarship.org/upload/PosterAwards/2015/Lumutenga%20ESC%20Poster.pdf.
To view award information, visit https://engagementscholarship.org/awards/esc-poster-award/2016.
For more information about international research at MSU, please see international.msstate.edu/research or contact Hill at email@example.com.
Meagan Coughlin | International Institute