Last month, the devastating news of a girl who committed suicide after being shamed & humiliated for getting her periods rocked the nation. The question as to why a young girl would be mocked for something so natural came up, but even more, was the question as to why there were no resources [sanitary towels & the information needed during this time] to be provided for these young girls.
This is one of the most important reasons why the M-PESA Foundation is today flagging off menstrual health packages to over 800,000 girls around the country sitting for their final year national examinations including those in Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps.
The Foundation will work with local manufacturers to produce the pads and the Ministry of Education to distribute them at an estimated cost of Kshs 281million
The girls will receive a Menstrual Health package consisting of three packets of sanitary pads enough to last for three months, 3 pieces of underwear and a menstrual health information booklet all enclosed in a drawstring bag.
The distribution will be done before the commencement of the national exams.
“It is wrong when a natural occurrence turns into a moment of shame for our young girls. We have continuously seen young girls in parts of the country result to using bits of mattresses, old cloths, leaves or even sheets of newspapers as makeshift pads because they cannot afford sanitary towels. This makes them live in isolation during menstruation which affects their education,” said Michael Joseph, Chairman, M-PESA Foundation.
A 2016 report by FSG, a global consulting firm, showed that only 65% of women and girls in Kenya can afford sanitary towels. Additionally, it is estimated that girls from disadvantaged families miss at least 20% of school days in a year due to lack of sanitary towels.
“Some girls engage in risky sexual behaviour to access money to buy sanitary pads. This is of major concern. We want to bring back dignity to our young girls,” Joseph said.