More than 400 girls from four primary schools in Kajiado county have a reason to smile after a non-governmental organisation (NGO) issued them with sanitary pads in an initiative that targets teenagers in the area.
Kibos International Health Foundation Manager Anacleter Marisim said that the initiative seeks to help girls who face challenges during the menstruation period and are at times forced to seek assistance from men who take advantage of them.
The NGO distributed sanitary towels to girls in Oloonkruman, EtiMakurian, Loodariak, and Inyonyori Primary Schools.
The organisation is committed to educating girls on menstrual health.
“Menstrual health education remains an urgent topic that needs concerted efforts by the government and NGOs among other development partners,” said Ms Marisim.
She noted that many girls, especially from marginalised groups, miss school while they are on their periods because they have no proper way to manage hygiene.
Marisim said Kibos Foundation aims to contribute to Kenya’s goals of establishing sustainable, integrated health systems to address communicable and non-communicable diseases.
“Kibos International Health Foundation is committed to joining hands with the government and other NGOs in addressing challenges facing young girls, especially those in marginalised areas,” she said.
She regretted that many girls miss classes or drop out of school due to a lack of sanitary towels.
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“For the government to achieve Vision 2030, it needs to ensure girls, especially from marginalised counties, attend school fully. It’s through education that the much-needed development in every community can be realised,” she said.
"Many parents support education but lack of sanitary towels will demoralise girls from furthering their studies because of discomfort and embarrassment," she added.
Marisim called on other stakeholders to help retain girls in school.
Area Senior Chief Daniel ole Kintalel said most girls in the Maa community need protection as they are forced out of school due to early marriages, teenage pregnancies and lack of sanitary towels among other traditional practices.
“Many parents from marginalised counties don’t value pads as a basic need. As leaders we need to educate parents so girls can compete with boys on a level playing field," he said.
He called on all leaders to fight retrogressive practices that hinder girls from accessing quality education.