AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) – an NGO will distribute 25,000 free sanitary towels to thousands of school girls in three counties for six months, to help them stay in school.
AHF country director Dr Samuel Kinyanjui made the announcement in Mombasa where he lead his team in distributing 2,000 sanitary pads to four schools in the county in a package that also includes inner wears and toothpaste.
He said girls in four schools will receive 500 sanitary pads per month for six months as well as other schools in Nairobi and Homabay.
The donation by AHF was part of the celebrations to mark the World Menstrual Hygiene Day celebrations at the St Mary’s Primary school in Bangladesh area of Mombasa County.
Kinyanjui said the donation was part of the strategy to keep girls in schools and eventually delaying their sex debut and ensuring that they live dignified lives.
He noted that girls were dropping out of school due to lack of sanitary pads and were also being taken advantage of by men who exchange sex for pads and exposing the girls to sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV.
Kinyanjui said by ensuring that girls remained in schools it ensures that they have equal opportunities with their male colleagues.
Globally the NGO plans to distribute 5 million sanitary pads over the next year to women and girls in need to keep them healthy and in school.
The NGO noted that while the world fights an ongoing battle against Covid-19, its was vital on Menstrual Hygiene Day that to remember that periods do not stop for pandemics.
AHF Africa Bureau Chief Dr Penninah lutung said, ‘distributing over five million sanitary pads to adolescent girls and women in need is important for multiple reasons. We are helping who we can, but we are also raising our voices and standing with the estimated 500 million women and girls that do not have access to adequate menstruation hygiene management facilities.
Dr Penninah noted that access to sanitary pads should be considered a necessity and not luxury since the lack of access means unmet menstrual health and hygiene needs, which may lead to stigma, harassment and social exclusion, particularly for adolescent girls and young women.
In Nyeri the deputy governor Dr Caroline Karugu asked the ministries of Health and Education to provide dispensers to public schools where girls can dispose of used sanitary towels safely.
She said it was a shame that public facilities have dispensers to dispose of used condoms and none to dispose of sanitary towels
Karugu further said that most of the girls who got pregnant during the covid-19 pandemic period when schools were closed was due to harassment by men as they sought money to purchase the essentials.