Teachers want sanitary towels to be exempt from taxes

Many girls miss classes or drop out of school due to lack of sanitary towels. [iStockphoto]

The Kenya Women Teachers Association has asked the government to zero-rate sanitary towels to enable more girls, especially those from poor homes, to afford them.

According to Kewota CEO Benta Opande, the call has yet to be answered, and young girls are having difficulty accessing towels.

"We have repeatedly asked the government to reduce the price of sanitary towels, but our requests have gone unanswered. We are now urging the new government to do the same. This will enable parents from low-income families to send their daughters to school," she said.

Opande said many girls missed classes because they were having menstrual periods. "They prefer to stay at home rather than attend school during this time," said the association's president. 

She spoke during a visit to Shalom Primary School in Ngobit ward, Laikipia county, where they donated food and sanitary towels to the students. At the same time, officials called for an expanded school feeding programme to ensure students stay in school amid a drought.

Opande said many children only go to school because it is the only place where they can be assured of a meal.

She said the needs in most parts of the country are dire, and the government ought to collaborate with other stakeholders to determine exactly where the need exists.

Lydia Kaburugo, a member of the teachers' association, echoed her sentiments, observing the need for stakeholders to investigate critical issues affecting such schools and children.

The food donations and sanitary towels, according to Shalom Primary School head teacher Anthony Muthoga, were a good gesture that would go a long way in helping the children in need. He said the school has 500 students, the majority of whom are from families who were displaced and relocated to the area, and thus come from very humble backgrounds and require such assistance.

Muthoga added that the area is semiarid and that the majority of the children go without food and cannot afford the most basic necessities.