There is need for the government to come up with sustainable ways of providing sanitary towels to girls in order to keep them in school.
Sylvia Maina from ‘Simama na dada initiative’, a group of youth volunteers working with girls especially at the grass root level to educate them on menstrual hygiene says between 60-65 % of girls drop out of school due to lack of sanitary towels.
“On many occasions girls fail to go to school due to lack of sanitary towels,” she said, adding that girls too are faced with challenges of poverty.
Speaking in Butula on Saturday, Maina said her team will traverse all parts of the country to sensitize vulnerable girls to embrace menstruation among women, because that is what makes them normal and important people in the family.
“We are so proud of our periods and we are calling out to other people to come and celebrate with the girls especially from the less privileged families,” she said.
Maina added that there was need for accountability among people entrusted with provision of such items to ensure they reach the targeted girls.
“Let us not be selfish because we are one nation, one people and it is all about our families and the country,” she said.
She urged the girls to be open and talk to their parents and other confidants about their body transformation so that they can be helped.
“Even when in school, do not fear to consult your teachers,” she told the girls.
However, Maina asked stakeholders not to give girls undue advantage in exchange for sanitary towels, adding that there was also need to bring boys on board so that they do not embarrass the girls during their menses.
The Director of Rural Education and Economic Empowerment Programme (REEP), Mary Makokha reiterated that a number of vulnerable girls in Busia county drop out of school due to lack of sanitary towels.
“This has prevented girls from competing with boys because they spend at least one week every month out of school due to menses,” she said.
Makokha further stated that there is a relationship between lack of sanitary towels and early pregnancies because many people take advantage of the girls sexually.
The Director urged local leaders to unite and help the girl child with requisite provisions so that they can stay in school, while advising parents to provide girls with pads instead of leaving them to fend for themselves.
During the occasion, more than 1,000 girls were issued with sanitary towels and inner pants as they celebrated the menstrual hygiene day at Butula Boys Primary School.
By Salome Alwanda