Date of Award
Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2018.
A culture of social taboos and silence leaves many young women beginning menarche in isolation, without complete understanding of the changes occurring in their bodies. There is a widespread stigma surrounding menstruation all around the world. These stigma impose significant barriers to education and proper hygiene for young girls during a critical time in their lives. Not having the proper support and resources to manage this process, 1 in 10 girls in sub-Saharan Africa miss school during their period, and therefore are more likely to drop out altogether. In Kenya specifically, menstruating girls miss an average of 4.9 days of school each month, contributing to 37% of Kenyan girls completing secondary school compared to 46% of boys. This problem is compounded by financial barriers to accessing sanitary pads, especially for low-income Kenyan women, since only 35% of Kenyan women can afford sanitary pads independently. Recognizing this disparity, in June 2017, the Kenyan government pledged to provide free sanitary pads to all Kenyan schoolgirls.
Our team has utilized this opportunity to develop a culturally appropriate, Android-based menstruation education mobile application using Googles Android Studio- Hedhi Help. Aiming to empower Kenyan girls with the knowledge, support, and resources needed to take charge of their menstrual cycles and understand their bodies, the application has been developed with two end-users in mind: girls who have begun menstruating, and those who have not yet begun. The application features four components: (i) a period tracking calendar, (ii) a Facebook discussion forum, (iii) a resource connection page, and (iv) a menstruation education component.
The period tracker calendar utilizes the Google Calendar API to enable users to track the dates of their periods and predict future periods based on past entries. The Facebook discussion forum will be a dedicated Facebook page where girls can connect and communicate with others. The resource connection page uses the Google Maps API to find health clinics near the users current location to increase access to healthcare resources. The menstruation education component is comprised of three modules that utilize a storybook approach focusing on how the body changes prior to menarche, the purpose and process of menstruation, debunking myths and stigmas, and explaining proper menstruation self-care. The app does not require any internet connection after the initial download because users can create a personalized profile to use the educational modules and calendar functions without network connectivity. The core logic and all visual elements were coded using the Java and XML languages, respectively. Information regarding the users profiles is stored and managed with Google Firebase, and version control is managed with Github. This mobile app provides a frugal platform for delivery of menstruation education and access to healthcare resources to a large audience, empowering young women with the tools and knowledge to properly manage their menstruation and stay in school. This is an e ample of how mobile technology can be impactful when the appropriate app is developed for a specific population.
Pagnani, Sarah; Pasco, Kelsey; Smith, Brandon; and Sotelo-Jimenez, Sarek, "Hedhi Help" (2018). Computer Science and Engineering Senior Theses. 108.