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Book for schoolgirls on monthly cycle out

COUNTIES
By Abigael Sum | September 14th 2014

At least six in every ten girls miss school because they cannot afford sanitary towels. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund estimates that an average girl loses more than a month of classes in the school year because of menstruation-related reasons.

These are the unsettling statistics that have made the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development step in with a manual to help adolescent school girls understand their sexuality.

Education Secretary Leah Rotich said provision of sanitary towels alone is not enough, adding that girls need a guide on how to use sanitary towels effectively.

“The girls need education and guidance on how to use these towels and generally manage their menstruation,” she said.

She was speaking on Friday, during the launch of a new menstrual hygiene book titled 'My Monthly Cycle Guide' at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD).

Those who cannot afford sanitary towels resort to diverse alternatives, ranging from old pieces of cloth or used blankets to tissue paper or just remaining indoors to contain the menstrual flow. These methods are not only unhygienic, but a health hazard.

The Ministry of Education has spent more than Sh700 million in providing sanitary towels to more than 1.78 million girls in selected public schools and 167 special schools.

The book, an initiative of Saidia Dada Network, not only explains how to use sanitary pads, but also how to care of oneself during menstruation, including how to deal with discomfort.

This manual, which will be distributed together with sanitary towels, also seeks to correct the misinformation related to the monthly flow.

“The guidelines are up to education standards and they have been aligned with the learners' level of understanding,” said Mercy Karogo, the acting director of KICD.

Saidia Dada plans to partner with the 47 counties to ensure the book is distributes to all schools.

“We are hoping that three million girls will benefit from this book annually. We are already in discussion with a number of county governments to partner with them in circulating the book to all schools in their respective areas,” said Beatrice Githinji, founder of Saidia Dada Network.

Saidia Dada Network empowers young girls and teenage mothers by distributing sanitary towels and providing training programmes on issues related to girls and women.

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