Include menstrual products in household budgets, Maasai men urged

David Ole Simel contributes to the period poverty discussions during the Ms President community dialogues in Kisamis Kajiado. [Courtesy]

Maasai men have been urged to include menstrual products in their household budgets amid efforts to end period poverty.

During Ms President Community dialogues organized by A Pack a Month, the men were told this will play a key role in ending period stigma and demystifying false myths and notions.

David Ole Simel a participant said over the years Maasai men have seen periods as a taboo and distanced themselves causing more harm than good.

“Many men have seen that loophole and know that as a man I would rather be caught dead buying a sanitary towel therefore they are using them to lure our daughter and eventually making them pregnant,” Simel said.

He said as a result, many girls have fallen victims to teenage motherhood and school dropout.

In the Maa community, discussions around periods have long been left to the women but due to emerging issues like single-parent headed homes, lack of empowerment and lack of financial capacity to purchase menstrual products causing a surge in teen pregnancy attributed to transactional sex, the men said they feel the need to pause culture and step in to rescue their daughters.

Simel’s sentiments were echoed by Geoffrey Moloimet who said men are largely affected when women are going through period poverty because it makes the whole essence of productivity low.

He stated that it is about time men embraced the fact that all things about women affect them because they are an integral part of the ecosystem and when in any way there is an imbalance in that then the entire ecosystem suffers imbalance.

Ms President community dialogue male participants urged to iinclude menstrual products in household budgets. [Courtesy]

“Women are very strong, it will help if men understood what they go through biologically and support them to be the best they can be. They are the integral part of the community, directors of home affairs. Imagine how companies would malfunction if their director was under the weather? that’s the same way our community would be,” he said.

Shadrack Ntikoisa said as a youth, he has witnessed many women under go gender based violence due to period poverty and therefore it needs to be taken as a serious national topic.

“Buying menstrual products should be included in household budgets, the topic should be made a norm in every household. As a community we must come out and openly discuss about these things because menstruation is part of God’s creation and we cannot run away from it,” he noted.

Lorna Lassoi, a Community Health Practitioner said such forums are an integral part of the awareness campaign as they open up the community while changing perception on critical things.

“It is about time the community accepted that the women did not create themselves and therefore should not be castigated for things beyond their control. When men who are majority in both County Assembly and National Assembly understand what women go through, then they can vote for public policies that favor the eradication of period poverty,” said Lorna.

Ms Jackline Saleiyan of A PACK A MONTH has been leading in the fight against period poverty by availing sanitary towels to now 25, 200 needy adolescent girls and young women within Kajiado County.

Ms Jackline Saleiyan of A PACK A MONTH chats with participants during the Kajiado Ms President Community Dialogue session. [Courtesy] 

She said her aim is to keep girls in school and reduce transaction sex for pads which largely contributes to the increase in teenage pregnancy and rise in STI infections.

“If I was to be asked, I would want period poverty declared a national disaster since it is the gateway to crisis that can over burden the country’s financial capacity. Managing a child with a child costs more because it means resources for two instead of one will be used,” she said.

Saleiyan also said managing STI’s is equally expensive than buying a single pack of pads.

“If we compare how much we would save by just providing free sanitary towels then we would take it seriously. It is not just a pack of pads it is much more,” she said.