‘No shame in menstruation! Am just trying to be a gender activist, a gender neutral person. Raising my voice to help a sister, using my voice to end menstrual stigma’ Marco’s best quote.
The young male gender activist has amazed Mombasa residents by doing what many felt it is a shameful deed.
However, for him that is what his heart is pushing him to do so that he saves young girls from sexual exploitation for being unable to access sanitary towels.
Small it may be but according to the 22 year old Salim Mohammed Marco its magnitude may completely shun the future for many girls.
It is from such considerations and boggling his mind further that Mr. Marco turned the vulnerable girl’s shame into hope and smiles.
The Mombasa based menstrual hygiene Ambassador is backed up by his fellow youth under a community based organisation, ‘The people of Victory’.
“From our monthly 200 shillings membership contribution in this year alone we have reached over 500 neediest girls,” says Mr. Marco.
The youthful gender activist says the initiative surprised many Mombasa residents but he was not at any point ashamed.
Marco not only distributes the sanitary towels but with his peers creates awareness to the girls on how to manage their monthly cycles.
The beneficiaries receive a three month package enough time to sustain them as the tireless gender activist source for more support to enhance the noble hygiene program.
Sex for pad
“It pains me when a girl is forced into sex just because she cannot afford sanitary pad, that’s why together with my peers we ventured into salvaging the situation,” noted Mr. Marco.
In Mombasa, Marco has traversed the informal settlement among them Morotto and Mburu Kenge slums and in other parts of Kisauni Sub-county.
[Youngest male gender activist Salim Mohammed Marco creating awareness to the community on menstrual health. Photo/Bakari Ali].
He says many girls especially those who depended on such programs in schools are now in desperation and some are forced to use pieces of clothes.
Born and raised in Mombasa, Marco clearly knows what the girls in poor family background go through especially during these times when Covid-19 has negatively impacted many economically.
He sends a passionate appeal to locals to contribute to the hygiene kitty so that the program benefits more needy girls.
The course according to the young hygiene activist is very noble and he invites everyone to selflessly contribute so that girls are hygienically sustained.
“However, our women leaders especially in Mombasa are a big let-down, we shouldn’t be discussing about sanitary distribution efforts by now if they had shown interests in this matter long ago,” charged Marco.
He further challenged Coast women leaders to join hands in ensuring girls in the region receive sanitary towels as a basic need.
[Mombasa based gender activist Salim Mohammed Marco getting ready for sanitary towels distribution. Photo/Bakari Ali.]
Marco disclosed that ‘The People of Victory’ organisation will carry on with the initiative to ensure vulnerable girls in Mombasa County benefit from the program.
He says the program will be expanded to reach all the Coastal counties.
“However, our attention is drawn to Tana River county where confirmed reports indicate that girls have been forced to use dry cow dung during their monthly cycle, this is nasty and shameful to to Tana river county government,” he said.