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Gov’t asked to provide free sanitary pads to needy girls

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[Ms Beatrice Mbeyu (Right) with the beneficiaries of sanitary towels donations. Photo/Ahmed Omar].

Young school girls living in the sprawling informal settlement of Bangladesh, Jomvu Sub-county in Mombasa County will benefit from free supply of sanitary pads for five months consecutively.

The four primary schools in the informal settlement will receive 12,000 sanitary pads with each school getting 500 sanitary pads every month courtesy of FUJITA Company undertaking the second phase of Dongo Kundu bypass project construction.

Speaking when donating the first bunch of 1,200 sanitary pads during the marking of world menstrual day at Bangladesh, Beatrice Mbeyu Fujita Company media person said they chose the informal settlement because the families were less privileged and are unable to afford the basic needs.

Ms. Mbeyu said the channeled donation will see the girls get a five-month supply of pads minimising school absenteeism and improving their personal hygiene.

Challenge

Women grassroots’ leader and activist Ms Ramla Ramadhan said girls in the informal settlement have been lacking basic needs like sanitary pads.

Ramadhan also decreed high rate of early pregnancies among teenage girls because they are lured to engage in sexual activities to get money for sanitary pads and other basic necessities where she urged leaders in Jomvu Sub County to unite and address the menace.

Dire situation

In Kenya it is estimated that about 65% of women and girls are unable to afford sanitary pads, the situation is so dire that in a 2015 study of 3000 Kenyan women by Dr Penelope Phillips-Howard found 1 in 10 15-year-old girls were having sex to get money to pay for sanitary ware.

In 2017, President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the Basic Education Amendment Act into law placing the responsibility of providing free, sufficient and quality sanitary towels on the government.

The law also compels the government to provide a safe and environmentally sound mechanism for disposal of the sanitary towels.

Two years after the law came into effect, there were concerns that school girls were not receiving sanitary towels despite the government allocating millions to support the programme.

Things became complicated in February 2018 when the project was moved from the Education ministry to the Ministry of Gender.