By Ann Wambui
A packet of pads in Kenya ranges between Kshs. 50 and Kshs. 150. Meaning that every 12 months of a year, a girl requires at least 2 packets of pads per menstrual cycle, that is Kshs. 1,200 per year. There are families that live below Kshs. 100 a day. Imagine a family that has two or three girl-teenagers and they need food, clothing, shelter and sanitation.
According to the World Poverty Clock report of 2018, Kenya was ranked eighth globally and sixth in Africa among countries with the largest number of people living in extreme poverty. The report further explained that 29 per cent (14.7 million) of the 49,684,304 people are very poor as they consume less than $1.90 (Shs 197) per day or Shs 5,910 monthly.
Sanitary pads have been a topic not only in Kenya but across the world in nations where governments have either subsidized or scrapped off tax or give them free of charge in schools through state programs.
As written by BBC UK, more than 141,000 Welsh school girls will receive sanitary products courtesy of the government as announced by First Minister Mark Drakeford during the Welsh Labour conference on Saturday April 13 2019. These funds were set aside by ministers who created a scheme of £2.3 million (Kshs. 304,582,507) aimed at tackling the period issue and making sure that women and girls access quality sanitary products.
“It’s unthinkable that young women could be forced to miss days of their education simply because they can’t access or afford period products,” said education minister Kirsty Williams.
In May 2018, Kenyan government through Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Gender Affairs Margaret Kobia distributed one million sanitary towels to girls in Makueni and Kitui counties. This followed an amendment on the Basic Education Act in June 2018 by President Uhuru Kenyatta which states, “The Basic Education Amendment Act amends Basic Education Act, placing the responsibility of providing free, sufficient and quality sanitary towels to every girl child registered and enrolled in a public basic education institution and has reached puberty, on the government.”
According to Independent A few days ago, an Egyptian company, Shark and Shrimp, a digital marketing agency, became the first ever to give its women employees one day of paid leave each month during their period. This came after women in the company raised concerns regarding to the pain that comes during menstruation.
Not all girls and women around the world open up about their menstrual pain or experience as it varies from female to female. There are schemes that provide pads for girls in Kenya, but my concern would be the number meant to serve them each term. A school term has three months therefore it would be proper to give each girl at least 6 packets of pads for it to be enough. As much as one would greatly help, it would also make a lot of sense if they were of quality and enough.
Plan International UK has warned against the continued secrecy toward the menstrual cycle. A study by Plan International UK on 1,000 girls between the ages of 14 and 21 revealed that nearly 50 percent of them felt embarrassed by their menstrual cycle.
The whole point of writing about this matter is that as a country we need to be better providers for all children and provide necessary assistance for girls during their cycle to ensure that they do not miss out on school. Providing ENOUGH pads means that parents/guardians are assured that the government is implementing the laws to provide pads for girls.
Giving pads also means that the government should provide proper environmental-friendly disposal measures. These free pads scheme should be felt even in the furthest parts of the country to ensure equality among all children.
#FreeSanitaryPads #MenstrualCycle #MenstrualHygiene
Sources; BBC UK, Independent UK, Egyptian Independent,