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More than 2,000 school girls and teenage mothers in Nyeri receive reusable sanitary towels

About 2,000 school girls from five sub-counties in Nyeri have benefitted from a free menstrual hygiene kit from Heels for Pads during a five day campaign aimed at addressing period poverty in the county.

Each of the girls, who included teenage mothers from Kiawara and Majengo slums, on Friday received a dignity kit containing reusable pads which can be reused for two years, underwear, toilet soap and detergent. The girls were also taken through life skills talks.

According to Monica Muhoya, one of the founders of Heels for Pads, the programme is aimed at ending period poverty by eradicating the challenges that girls experience while accessing sanitary towels. Muhoya said the organisation was also keen on ensuring that girls remain in school during their menses.

“Besides promoting proper menstrual hygiene practices by donating sanitary pads, we are also providing mentorship for these girls as a way of empowering and affirming to them that they can attain their full potential,” said Muhoya.

A report released by Amref Health Africa in February this year shows that 65 per cent of women and girls in Kenya cannot afford sanitary pads. It  also showed  that that only 50 per cent of girls openly discuss menstruation at home. Further, only 12 percent of girls in the country felt comfortable receiving information from their mothers. Additionally, the statistics revealed that  two out of three sanitary pad users in rural Kenya receive them from sexual partners and one  in  four  girls do not associate menstruation with pregnancy highlighting how menstrual hygiene management is tied to gender inequity and other fundamental risks.

Muhoya at the same time championed a collaborative approach in tackling period poverty and issues connected to menstrual hygiene management. She said that contrary to public perception that period poverty is mostly concentrated in slum areas, hygienic menstrual products were still beyond the reach of a majority of girls and women throughout the country.

Further, Muhoya said that the high poverty levels among many households in both rural, urban  and peri-urban settings was still the major challenge hindering  girls from accessing hygienic menstrual products.

“What is coming out clearly from these girls is that they do not have money for sanitary towels and also these girls are not able to ask their parents for sanitary towels. That is why they opt for alternatives such as old pieces of clothes or a piece of a mattress to manage their menstrual flow,” said Muhoya.

“Period poverty is not a one-person thing, it is something that should collectively be addressed by everyone if indeed we want to achieve menstrual equality,” she added.

 By Wangari Mwangi


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