Christmas gift: Give our women free sanitary pads just like you give men condoms
The State should initiate a programme to provide free sanitary pads to women countrywide just as it does with condoms in public places and bars.
Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme (BHESP) Executive Director Peninah Mwangi has accused the government of taking too long to launch the free sanitary pads programme for girls and women. With over 20,000 members in Nairobi alone, Mwangi said research findings indicate access to sanitary pads is first in the priority list of vulnerable girls, including sex workers.
“For school going girls, provision of sanitary pads come first before text books, food and education. When they don’t have pads for a month, it becomes a worry to them,” said Mwangi.
While lauding the continued provision of free condoms in public places, Mwangi said the drive should not only be restricted to men as her members too are vulnerable to contracting STDs and thus also need to have easy access to them.
Agnes Kagure, who runs a foundation, regretted that the government’s focus in the fight against HIV/Aids is mainly on men and has in the process ignored the plight of women. Speaking at John Michuki Memorial Park in Nairobi, Kagure said government priorities are skewed against women.
“The same way government gives out condoms for free by storing them in washrooms, it should also issue sanitary pads so women, who can’t access them free of charge,” said Kagure.
Kagure, through her foundation, planted 150 trees together with a number of street families and donated foodstuff for Christmas festivities. The foundation also donated sanitary pads to women drawn from the street families.
“The donation is in line with our goal of sharing with the less privileged people in the society,” said Kagure.
Elsewhere, LVCT Health head of communication Alfred Itunga said they are launching a programme to provide free sanitary pads to girls and women.
“Many women and young girls are forced to engage in illicit sex in order to get money to buy pads,” he said.
And Stanley Ngara of King of Condoms said he will continue with his noble cause of giving out free condoms especially during this festive season as people are likely to get overexcited and indulge in unprotected sex.
Ngara said he will be providing free condoms in Nairobi, Machakos, Kiambu and Kajiado counties.
“I will be refilling condom dispensers in various police stations and at public toilets in various bus stations,” said Ngari.
“Each day, I distribute 7,200 condoms. From December 20 to New Year, I will have distributed more than 86,000 condoms in the city.”