google.com, pub-1809254538270268, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 Use of re-usable Sanitary Towels Attributed to High Enrollment of Girls in Schools in Kwale – Al Shifaa Media Kenya
November 30, 2023

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Increased use of re usable sanitary towels has been attributed to the high enrollment of school going girls in Kwale county

Period stigma is still a typically slippery agenda in Kenya, despite efforts by the government, individual policymakers, and other stakeholders to normalize this conversation.

Kwale is among counties at the coast that the number of vulnerable adolescent girls and women remains high, and the sustainability of the supply of menstrual products is a challenge.

Statistics from Network for Adolescent and Youth of Africa (NAYA) show that at least one in 10 girls miss school due to lack of sanitary products because of high poverty level and education related to menstruation. The society they live in and the negative cultural norms of “becoming a woman” and the mystery surrounding these changes does not only create girls’ unhealthy perceptions of themselves and their bodies but also affect more concrete aspects of their lives, including their education.

Good menstrual hygiene means complete well-being in relation to the menstrual cycle in terms of access to menstrual products,  and information.

According to Susan Yienya, the Director and founder of Days for Girls’ International in Kenya, a community organization, many girls skip school one to two weeks in a month to avoid the potential embarrassment and shame associated with having one’s period show. Due to its monthly recurrence, many of them are unable to catch up on the material they have missed and will eventually get pregnant,drop out of school or even get married.

According to World bank, over 300 million women globally are menstruating daily and approximately 500 million lack access to menstrual products and sufficient facilities for menstrual hygiene management (MHM).

To address this problem,NAYA has partnered with organizations like Days For Girls International and other well wishers to provide them with reproductive health education and cost effective menstruation products mostly targeting vulnerable girls who cannot afford sanitary napkins resorting to unhygienic solutions such as old cloths and sponges hence endangering their health.

In most schools now, 70 percent of girls leave school between the ages of 13 and 18. Low enrollment for both genders is common due to period poverty in the region.

However, with menstruation typically beginning at the age of around 13 and 14 years, limited access to reproductive health education and cost effective menstruation supplies such as reusable sanitary pads has now become powerful tools in keeping them in school.

Statistics from AMREF indicated that before the Covid-19 outbreak,,900 million of the 1.9 billion menstruating girls worldwide could not access menstrual hygiene.

Most girls who spoke to Alshifaa media Kenya during the publication of this article said,disposable sanitary pads are often too expensive for them and their families to afford, opting them to go for unsanitary alternatives such as old clothes, sponges which sometimes expose them to diseases.

‘Many of us who are unable to attend school when they are in their menstruation periods sometimes resolve to use old cloths, sponges or even decide to go without. Some easily get tempted to unprotected sex exposing themselves to risks of contacting diseases, teenage pregnancies and even early marriages’ one girl from Mchinjirini primary school noted.

Another girl from Kizdumbani primary school in Msambweni also said that reusable sanitary pads are cheap, effective and an empowering tool for them and their young mothers.

The standard eight girl also requested the donors to include young women in the program as they are also facing similar problems.

Suleiman Mwambuche, a teacher at Kizdumbani primary school said, sanitary pads distribution has improved girls’ school attendance,engagement in class and the general performance of their school.

‘Since this exercise began, we have seen improvements in absenteeism; general performance and even school drop out cases amongst our girls have gone down. We had a total of 150 girls last year but we now have more than 200’ Mr.Mwambuche said.

Ms. Mwaguto. a teacher at Mchinjirini primary school applauded Days for Girls Kenya and all other organizations for coming up with the program saying many girls had gone back to school and cases of teenage pregnancies and early marriages had reduced.

NAYA, have assisted in teaching girls how to access information and services related to sexual and reproductive health such as access to contraceptives and comprehensive sexuality education , as well as the right to make decisions about one’s own sexual feelings without discrimination, coercion or violence..

Ms. Yienya also said that Days for Girls International is planning to start a school in Kwale where young girls will be trained to sew their own reusable sanitary pads from basic patterns and locally sourced materials that attach easily to undergarments.

“By making the reusable sanitary pads themselves, girls are able to move forward in their lives with more knowledge and confidence in themselves and their bodies, and menstruation becomes less of an unknown force to be feared” Yienya said.

She further added that the inclusion of parents, teachers and boys is also valuable to the program’s effectiveness and longevity as well as the confidence and empowerment of the young women.

In Coast region, NAYA offers educational programs to journalists on how to report on Sexual Health and Reproductive Health and Rights stories so as to better educate and create awareness in the society on how to support young women of the community. With this vital education and awareness, girls will be able to pursue their education without compromising their wellbeing..


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