Sanitary towels are a necessity for girls in their adolescence and adult years. However, some are not as lucky to have access to these products. While their peers go on with life as normal, they’re forced to look for alternatives during that time of the month. Many activists have called for the government to make sanitary towels freely accessible to girls from needy backgrounds. The government responded by making sanitary towels exempt from VAT but pads are still not easily available to the girls who need them. In the meantime, foundations like the MPESA Foundation have stepped in with menstrual hygiene programmes to ensure girls in need have access to sanitary towels.
The M-PESA Foundation, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, has pledged to distribute 3 months’ supply of sanitary towels to over 180,000 needy girls across the country. This is part of the foundation’s 44 million menstrual hygiene programme. It also includes providing girls with sexual and reproductive health education.
Lessens Financial Stress
Such initiatives are important especially during the pandemic since many needy families are under more financial strain. Every parent would like to give their children all the necessities to make their lives more comfortable. Unfortunately, some parents don’t have the financial means to spend every a few shillings every month to buy sanitary towels. With such initiatives, parents have one less thing to worry about.
Lack of sanitary towels disrupts education for many girls from vulnerable backgrounds. In some cases, girls completely drop out of school once they start menstruation to avoid any embarrassing situations at school. A UNESCO report showed that one in ten girls in Sub-Saharan Africa missed school during their menstrual cycle. Furthermore, statistics indicate that girls miss out on 13 learning days in a term when they miss four days a month because of their period. Such absenteeism can make them lag behind in their education compared to their male counterparts who get to attend school all year long. Initiatives like the MPESA Foundation’s Menstrual Hygiene Programme ensure that girls don’t miss out on school because of their period.
Maintains Good Menstrual Hygiene
When girls don’t have access to sanitary towels, they look for other alternatives to use. This includes cotton pads, mattresses, blankets, and other absorbent materials that could potentially put their health and lives at risk. Poor menstrual hygiene increases the risk of developing health complications. Providing access to free sanitary towels could reduce the risk of urogenital diseases. Additionally, such materials don’t offer full protection from leakages. The girls constantly worry about having an “accident” which can take a toll on their mental wellbeing. Shaming Women: Why Is Menstruation Such A Big Deal?
By launching such initiatives, the plight of these girls is brought to the public’s attention which can lead to more assistance. Over the years, private citizens have also taken initiative to ensure that girls receive sanitary towels to make their lives more comfortable. Whether it’s through their own foundations, in partnership with other foundations, or personal donations, the public plays a key role in the success of such drives.