Sanitary Pads for School Girls in Kenya

Sanitary Pads for School Girls in Kenya

From Janet David

TheGirlChild (TGC) aims to provide reusable (washable) sanitary pads to female students in Kenya to keep them in School

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Did you know...

1. That many girls in Kenya from poor families lack access to sanitary pads.

2. That the poverty cycle in Kenya can be broken when girls stay in school.

3. Poor Kenyan girls who cannot afford pads resort to unhygienic and unsafe solutions.

4. 50% of girls in Kenyan slums engage in transactional sex or are sexually exploited to get money for basic feminine supplies like pads hence the risk of STIs and HIV.

5. Alternatively, others miss school, sports, friends and relationships altogether to avoid embarrassment from bloodstained clothes.

6. School absenteeism is a major risk factor to the education of girls in Kenya.

7. A girl child with lack of access to menstrual products faces emotional and psychological stress.

Now Imagine this…

1. Making an emergency trip to the shops to get pads or tampons and found no shops or the money you have was too little to afford them?

2. Menstruation, a natural process for women and girls, is a big problem for girls in most parts of Kenya causing a huge risk to their health and disempowerment.

3. Menstruation adds to the collection of reasons for gender disparity experienced by girls in Kenya.

4. Somewhere in Kenya, lack of access to sanitary towels for girls means no school, no work for women, no leaving home, no friends, no joy, no hope…sad, uuh!

5. To manage their menstrual flow, girls in Kenya turn to anything like rags, tissue papers, pieces of old clothes, mattresses or blankets, tree leaves, newspapers, cotton wool, corn husks, basically anything that can possibly do the job!.

6. Due to the absence of menstrual products for poor girls in Kenya, a normal natural experience for females has been transformed into a nightmare or a curse as some may bluntly view it.

7. Menstruation is a private subject and taboo to discuss openly due to social and cultural attitudes, hence the problems associated with it are swept under the carpet

8. Hygienic sanitary protection and reproductive health matters are considered a trivial issue for government attention.

The Facts

For a typical poor African family, when there is little money to barely cater for food, fuel and other basic needs, sanitary products is not a priority. Therefore, providing sanitary materials for girls would be a life-changer for numerous reasons including hygiene, health, education and empowerment. When people are dying of war, hunger, diseases and terrorist attacks, pads are the last thing an aid organization or a government would think of.On average, a girl misses 5 school days in a month; this means 20 learning days in a term. A year has 3 terms, this means losing 60 learning days per year. A girl in secondary school who studies for 4 years would lose 240 days cumulatively throughout their high school education. This is about 8 months of school absenteeism within a period of 4 years. This fact also increases the possibility of dropping out of school.

FAWE and UNICEF report that menstruation is among the highest rated factors for school dropout among girls in Africa with 1 in 10 girls miss school due to lack of sanitation products or facilities in schools. Girls in Africa need sanitary towels which are affordable and accessible locally.

The solution

Something can be done to improve girl’s access to effective, sustainable, affordable, eco-friendly and safe solutions. An innovative solution to the girl problems in Kenya can be obtained through sustainable feminine hygiene and pads to avoid infection, exploitation, shame, low self-esteem, school drop-out, exploitation and stress.

This is where you come in!

Let’s make this situation better for the girls in Kenya. The stories of the girls in Kenya are sad and drive our passion to want to help.By supporting this project, you will empower us to provide the girls in Kenya with quality, re-usable sanitary towels. This process will include educating girls on matters of reproductive health, self-defense, personal hygiene, and sewing lessons.

How will this project solve the problem?

With a sanitary kit of cloth pads, a girl in Kenya can go for up to 3 years with sufficient protection during their menstruation days. This translates to 5 days of living per month, 60 days per year and 180 days within 3 years where the girl will enjoy hygiene, safety, education, high self-esteem and dignity. Our project is not only about giving pads to the girls but also training the girls and women in our local community to be self-reliant by providing them with the necessary tools to support themselves. We will partner with Women’s Health Ambassadors and other non-profit organizations and groups working in Africa (e.g. Lunapads and AFRIpads) in providing training to the girls and women in the local communities not only in making the sanitary kit but also various skills that can be used to generate income.In the long run, the girls will remain in school and have a reliable and sustainable solution to their menstrual worries. This means that future generations will be better because the current girls will be educated, hence shaping a brighter tomorrow.

Why cloth pads?

1. Cloth pads are easy to use and maintenance is equally easy—you simply soak, wash and dry.

2. They have a higher rate of absorbance than the disposable pads and if you have a heavy flow, you can simply add more layers to increase absorbance.

3. Although cloth pads might seem a bit expensive at first, it is a one-time investment because the product will be recycled (washed and re-used) over a couple of years.

4. They are made from natural fibers (e.g. cotton) hence are comfortable, free of irritation and cool to wear unlike disposable pads which can get sweaty, moistened and uncomfortable because of the plastic material used.

5. Cloth pads come in attractive colors and prints which also hide stains.

6. They are good for sensitive skin and do not need nylon backing.

7. Disposable pads are made using chemicals, perfumes and additives which could be harmful especially if worn for more than 5 hours.

8. Whiteness due to bleaching process has dioxin which causes cancer. Chemicals used in plastic pads may cause allergies, irritation, itching and yeast infections.

9. Cloth is much better for the environment because nothing goes to landfills every month. Disposable pads create large volumes of garbage across the world because they are not recycled and hardly decompose.

10. Disposable products do not disappear; they are taken somewhere where they simply cause environmental pollution.

11. Disposal pads come with plastic packaging which takes more landfill space.

12. Cloth pads save trees because fewer materials are required to manufacture them and less often.

13. Cloth pads are easily biodegradable and decompose easily.

14. Organic cotton is grown without harmful pesticides and is not destructive to the environment.

15. Very few people in Kenya know about the more sustainable alternatives of menstrual products. Distributing these to poor Kenyan girls will help create awareness.

Is a PAD=EDUCATION?...Really?

Believe it or not, for a girl in Kenya, this equation holds: a pad=education!Yes, I know, you wonder how?

This is how…

Studies have reported that the best investment that can be made in the developing world is providing resources required for education, especially for girls. With education, sustainable change can be obtained leading to growth in human economy. Every month, many poor girls in Kenya and other parts of Africa miss classes for a week due to lack of options to manage their menstrual flow. Such girls would cumulatively miss 4 weeks out of 17 weeks in one term. This leads to them lagging behind in education and possible drop outs.

Do you know what this means?

By simply supplying as many girls in Kenya with sanitary towels, they can remain in school all through and achieve their dreams!

How the funds will be used

We plan on creating a sustainable solution which we shall make by hands. We will use the funds to buy sewing machines (straight stitch, over-lock and snap machine); materials (organic cotton, plastic snaps, water-proof layer, twill tape, etc); pants and soaps for girls to clean the pads, registration of our non-profit organization and making a website to create awareness. 

What you will get

Your support is a stepping stone to long-term solutions for girls in Kenya. The organization will offer shout-outs on social media, your names will appear in our list of sponsors and founders, and you will be receiving updates and reports on what we are doing with your funds to improve the life of the girl child in Kenya. You will also be receiving photographs and videos taken from our activities in various parts of Kenya with the girls in them so that you can see the girls you have supported. Postcards, hand written letters and stories from the girls you have supported will also be availed to you and lots of love from our team.We invite you to take a tour with us. Once our website is launched, we shall be posting all the regions we plan to visit to meet the girls and an update of the same shall be sent to you with the dates, locations and time.

You are welcome to join us on these visits and it will be a fulfilling unique experience for you. Imagine when you not only give your money but also give your time to visit the girls and speak words of encouragement to them. This makes them feel loved, cared for motivated, special, respected, valued and heard. They will know they are not alone because they have people who give them opportunities, equal respect, confidence, safety and education.

Other ways you can help

Be an Ambassador. Help us build our network of solution-seekers• Get the word out! Tell your friends and co-workers about the campaign.• Share this campaign through Facebook, Tumblr, Email, Pinterest, SMS, Carrier Pigeon, and WhatsApp, whichever works for you.

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