Over 800,000 girls sitting for Kenya Certificate of Primary Education and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education final examination will be provided with sanitary towels to enable them sit for exams comfortably.
Flagging-off four lorries carrying the sanitary towels for distribution to Vihiga, Busia, Nyeri and Nyandarua at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development on Tuesday, the Cabinet Secretary for Education (CS), Prof. George Magoha announced that various counties have already received the consignments among them Garissa, Samburu, Wajir, Voi and West Pokot.
Prof. Magoha said his ministry and M-pesa Foundation have partnered with local manufacturers to produce sanitary towels at a cost lower than wholesale price.
“The government is committed to give sanitary pads to girls apart from providing free primary education and free day secondary education,” he said
Prof. Magoha said the government spends sh470 million to provide pads to at least 1.4 million girls for a period of four months, which he said is inadequate.
“The Ministry decided to partner with M-Pesa Foundation to meet the demand so that all girls can receive the sanitary towels,” said Prof. Magoha.
The CS at the same time directed the officers in his ministry to ensure that the sanitary pads are given to the girls without bias.
The Chairman, M-pesa Foundation, Michael Joseph said the Foundation will work with local manufacturers to produce the pads which will be distributed by the Ministry of Education at an estimated cost of sh281 million.
“The girls will receive menstrual health package consisting of three packet of sanitary pads enough to last for three months, three pieces of underwear and a menstrual health information booklet all enclosed in a drawstring bag,” he said.
“It is wrong when a natural occurrence turns 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,” said Joseph.
He noted that the girls are forced to use mattresses and others because they cannot afford sanitary towels saying that this makes them to live in isolation during menstruation which affects their education.
Joseph said it is saddening that some girls engage in risky sexual behaviour to get money to buy pads, saying that the partnership will bring back dignity to the young girls.
The government introduced the National Free Sanitary Towel Programme to provide sanitary towels to school girls, train them on hygienic usage and disposal of sanitary towels, as well as to monitor and evaluate its impact, Joseph explained.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Director, Fathiaa Abdalla said UNHCR has partnered with M-pesa Foundation to provide girls in Kakuma and Daadab refugee camps with pads besides supporting their education.
“Over 450 girls will benefit from the free sanitary pads distribution in the refugee camps,” said Abdalla.
She said globally refugees have less access to education, lack supplies of sanitary pads and other relevant facilities.
By David Musungu/Isaac Wafula