The COVID-19 pandemic is casting a spotlight on the fragility of the wellbeing of thousands of girls with media reports of huge numbers of unintended teen pregnancies since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown.
Social distancing and avoidance of crowd has made it difficult to use sports as a way of sharing and teaching the youths of good living technicalities. MOH regulations have to be adhered to at all times. This is a problem that will rob them of their right to education, and deny them life opportunities.
With schools and other learning institutions shut across the country for the better part of 2020, the Ministry of Education has implemented strategies aimed at ensuring continuity of education through radio, television, and the Internet. However, the huge inequality gap we have in the country has severely disadvantaged learners from poor and vulnerable households as they are unable to access these education platforms.
That, compounded with the fact that schools used to provide meals and sanitary towels to girls from disadvantaged families. Some of the girls are not able to access these since schools closed, some have now been forced to engage in transactional sex to obtain these essential products and also get food for their families. Most times this transactional sex tends to be unprotected leading to the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections which further exacerbates the consequences for the girls.
Even before the pandemic began, girls faced considerable challenges in accessing essential reproductive health information and services. Now, amid a pandemic that is straining even the strongest healthcare systems, there is the real risk that sexual and reproductive health and rights will be deprioritised, with widespread and long-term implications for the girls’ futures. Its time the Organisation would suggest the implementation of Ms. Njoki Ndung’u bill which was shelved due to public outcry.
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Alfred Polo Foundation is deeply concerned about the well-being of girls and all women in general. We believe that girls must be safe everywhere including at home and around their communities. We also believe that girls have the right to access free and decent sanitary towels.
Polo Alfred– Director speaking at a different forum earlier in the years, noted that It is with these beliefs that we have initiated a raft of programs aimed at addressing these issues. Some of the programs include the donation of sanitary towels and products to girls in vulnerable and marginalised communities. The organisation has also organised and donated food baskets to various low-income households around the country.
All said, as an organisation we urge the government that as it continues to ensure the spread of COVID-19 is minimised, it is important that it also mitigates the gendered fall-out for the pandemic that is affecting children and in particular adolescent girls in Kenya. The Ministry of Health should develop guidelines that ensure sexual and reproductive health services are extended to adolescents, and raising among young people on where and how to access these services.
Protecting and empowering our youths is crucial for the eradication of poverty. An empowered youth will be healthier, earn a greater income, and is more likely to empower their children. When societies don’t value youths and their futures, entire communities suffer and generations are mired in poverty. This is a war that can’t be won by individuals or social Organizations but all of us have to put in equal effort to make things easier.
Alfred Polo Foundation would be one against many youth Support organisations which has been impacted by COVID 19 pandemic.