On Sunday, hundreds of people participated in Pan Marathon, which was organized to raise funds that will help Pan Foundation Uganda set up a manufacturing facility to make affordable pads that can be used by school-going girls.
Pan Foundation is a brainchild of renowned dental surgeon Dr. Tom Mutyabule.
The marathon which was organised in three sets of 5km, 10km, and 21km, kicked off from a branch of Pan Dental Surgery in Jinja town.
Speaking after the marathon, Dr. Mutyabule said the proceeds will contribute to funds that are being collected to launch the production unit.
He hopes that by November they would have raised enough funds to set the ball rolling.
Most girls in rural schools across the country can’t afford pads on the market, yet during the menstruation period, it becomes really difficult for them to attend school without wearing them.
Reports have shown that girls turn to rags and muds in desperate situations.
A number of local startups have come up with a number of solutions to tame this problem but they lack enough funds or are not innovative enough to scale their solutions.
Richard Bbaale, a Ugandan social entrepreneur, for instance, makes Bana sanitary pads from agricultural banana waste.
By sourcing raw materials locally, it helps cuts prices.
Dr. Mutyabule told me that initially, they’ll be importing raw materials but they hope to cut on imported resources in the future.
He declined to reveal the funds they are raising to kick off the project.
Proceeds from the marathon was not revealed as well.
Pan Foundation Uganda was launched in 2019. Yesterday’s marathon was the first.
The winners in the three sets scored prizes in the form of dental services and fuel.
Speaker of Parliament and Kamuli District Woman of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga was the guest of honour.
Other notable leaders that attended the marathon are Dr. Joseph Muvawala, Prime Minister of Busoga Kingdom; and Igeme Nabeta, chairman of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) in Jinja.
Former Miss Uganda Quiin Abenakyo also attended.
“We are running to make sure girls get sanitary towels. This is something we take for granted… we want, instead of just buying pads, we acquire equipment to make locally,” she told when I asked what inspired her to participate in the marathon.
“We want to see to it that, at least, of all the problems a girl-child has, that of sanitary pads is not among. I keep telling people sex is a choice, but menstruation is not. But condoms are free. How about we make sanitary towels free.”