Zambia is a landlocked country in Southern Africa with a population of over 16 million of which 59% lives in rural areas. The average population density is 22 people per km2. The life expectancy at birth is 60 years.[1]

UNICEF works with the government of Zambia to address and mitigate the threats that the country’s children face. UNICEF supports national efforts to improve service delivery in the key areas of child health, nutrition and HIV & AIDS, quality basic education, water, sanitation and hygiene, child protection and social policy, advocacy and communication.[2]

In 2016, the female dropout rate in grades 1-7 at 1.9% was higher than that for boys at 1.3%. Similarly, in grades 8-12, the female dropout rate is almost four times that of boys at the national level.[3]

The WinS4Girls program aimed at providing a more supportive school environment resulting in increased attendance rates of girls at primary and secondary level. It supported the government and other stakeholders in acquiring a better understanding of current MHM practices and barriers girls face in schools in Zambia and in strengthening the capacity in menstrual hygiene management from central level to school level.

[3] Education Management Information System 2016, Ministry of General Education, Zambia.

Quick Facts
Percentage of schools with:
Improved drinking water
Improved, usable & single-sex toilets (at least 2 toilets per school)
Improved, usable & single-sex toilets (at least 1 toilet for 50 pupils)



Literacy rate for youth (15 - 24 years old) 47
Primary education completion rate 35
Secondary education completion rate 14
Gender parity rate in secondary schools competition (number of females to male) 0.27


Education Management Information System, Ministry of General Education, Zambia, 2016.


  • Ministry of General Education.
  • Centre for Infectious Diseases and Research in Zambia (CIDRZ).
  • University of Zambia, Department of Gender Studies.


Under WinS4Girls, UNICEF worked with ministries of education and other partners at national level (typically through MHM Working Groups) to develop and promote a MHM intervention package informed by the WinS4Girls formative research.

Depending on the country, the intervention packages have taken different forms in response to the diverse needs expressed by girls, their teachers, and their families during the research. For example, they may include national or sub-national policies and guidelines; learning and communication materials; and training modules for teachers, health workers, and peer educators. In some cases, the package has included infrastructure development and pad production or distribution.

The package includes the following:

  • National MHM guidelines addressing challenges related to menstrual hygiene which have been identified through a formative research study. The guidelines set recommendations for the enabling school environment to be addressed at national, provincial, district and school level (including communities surrounding the schools).
  • The MHM toolkit: is a resource document providing practical guidance to effectively manage MHM in the school and the surrounding community. The toolkit consists of 21 tools covering the following topics: Getting Started with Menstrual Hygiene Management in School; Knowledge on Menstruation; MHM Friendly Toilets and Washing Areas; and Materials and Disposal.

MHM demo kits are used during the orientation of schools on MHM by District staff or implementing partners. They include the National MHM guidelines and toolkit; a set of flash cards; washable and disposable menstrual materials and ready to stitch materials for schools to locally produce washable pads.


The research project used various qualitative data collection methods to understand the barriers to MHM of the relevant stakeholders in schools and surrounding communities. These include girl and boy learners, teachers, parents, village leaders, and education administrators. The research informed the development of the toolkit and the guidelines in the basic package.

Visit the Resources Section to download the implementation package