180,000 school girls across the country will benefit from a three months’ supply of sanitary pads.
Speaking after flagging off the sanitary towels under the Keeping Our Girls in School Programme on Monday, Education CS George Magoha lauded the initiative targeting girls from disadvantaged backgrounds particular those in primary schools even as the national exam period nears.
Magoha said the sanitary towels will enhance retention in schools through improved menstrual hygiene, performance and reduce absenteeism.
The initiative by the MPESA Foundation aims at safeguarding teenage girls in Kenya through improved menstrual hygiene and adolescent sexual reproductive health education. It also creates awareness among adolescent boys on menstruation, sexual reproductive health and life skills.
Magoha urged the foundation to roll out the initiative to secondary schools by partnering with the government to ensure all high school girls sitting for the final year examinations in public schools have access to the products.
“Many girls are not able to access menstrual hygiene products with statistics indicating that 65 percent of women & girls in Kenya cannot afford them” said Les Baillie, Executive Director, M-PESA Foundation.
“That is why as a Foundation we came up with this menstrual health program to support girls’ education and ensure that they live in dignity’’. Les Baillie, Executive Director, M-PESA Foundation #KeepingOurGirlsInSchool #TwendeTukiuke pic.twitter.com/AQuM9RlrKe
— M-PESA Foundation (@MPESA_FDN) January 25, 2021
Statistics by Procter and Gamble indicate that 65 per cent of women and girls in Kenya cannot afford sanitary pads while 42 per cent of school-going girls have never used sanitary pads. Most of them seek unhygienic homemade alternatives such as rags, pieces of mattress, blankets, tissue paper and cotton wool.
In 2019, the M-Pesa Foundation provided three months’ supply of sanitary towels to 800,000 girls who were sitting for their final year national examinations.
A 2016 U.N. report estimated that one in 10 girls in Sub-Saharan Africa misses school during her menstrual cycle due to an inability to access affordable sanitary products.