Over 250 girls from five primary schools in Chasimba Ward, Kilifi County received sanitary towels and training on Menstrual Hygiene Management from Garden of Hope Foundation (GOHF) in partnership with Love Your Neighbor /Kivuli Kijijini.
Speaking while launching the training, GOHF’s Country Director, Floridah Atieno, noted that there was a need to distribute dignity kits to ensure that girls stay in school and have the right information with regards to menstruation. ‘’As Garden of Hope Foundation under our mentorship programme, we conduct trainings on menstrual hygiene management and distribute sanitary towels to schools that are in marginalized areas.”
Deep in Kilifi County, Chasimba presents a clear contrast of our society and country. Though girls attend school, they are faced with the threat of early drop outs, child marriage and poverty. As one traverses this area, dotted by beautiful coconut trees, they cannot fail to notice that it’s a community in dire need, especially for women and girls.
“Girls in this area rarely finish primary school, by the time they are in class five or six, they have already given birth, and hence they see no need of continuing with school. Majority end up being child mothers further complicating the situation since the poverty levels are very high.” says Christine the Menstrual Hygiene Management coordinator at Love your Neighbor/ Kivuli Kijijini.
Christine notes that most girls are forced to skip school whenever they are menstruating. Other girls are forced to use old pieces of clothes, rags, mattresses or at times old newspapers during ovulation. “Girls in this area experience a lot of challenges; they have no access to sanitary towels, only relying on donations from well-wishers.”
One of the Health teachers at a local primary school noted that the provision of sanitary pads will empower and help girls stay in school. “We would like to thank Garden of Hope Foundation for this noble cause. Stigma from the community and even some of the students make girls miss. I believe with the training you have given them they have the right information on menstruation. I would also like the community to have a change of attitude with regards to menstruation since it is a normal biological function and there is no need of being ashamed about it.
A research carried out by UNESCO in African countries shows that increased school dropouts among girls in rural areas is linked to reproductive health issues. In Kenya, a joint State Department of Gender and UNICEF report indicated that more than 1,039,000 school girls were missing classes at least 4 days in a month.
It is also estimated that vulnerable girls skip classes for 39 days in a year during their menstrual cycle, a situation that puts them at a disadvantaged position with their male counterparts. If not missing school, a girl is forced to use inappropriate and unhygienic materials that do not offer sufficient protection, putting her at risk of contracting infections and being the subject of ridicule.