In terms of education girls have made significant strides over the last 10 years. But many girls all around the country are missing out on school because of their menses. Having your period and having no sanitary pads can be embarrassing for girls as some of the materials they use during their menses leak. Many girls are using cheaper options like tissue paper, rags and cotton wool doing their periods. This exposes them to infections.
Many organizations and individuals have come up to help but there is still a lot to be done.
The government last year promised to spend Ksh. 200 million on 678,770 disadvantaged girls across the country in primary schools. But this leaves out girls in high schools and other primary schools not targeted by the program.
An estimated 900,000 girls in school are missing school for 3-4 days a month during their menses. This has a spiral effect on the girls’ future. Girls who miss out on class are likely to under-perform in school and some might eventually drop out. This has long term effects on her earning potential; she is likely to engage in premature sexual activity and may even end up with a couple of children before she is 18. If she is uneducated and economically disadvantaged she is less likely to educate her children. This intensifies the circle of poverty.
Availability of pads allows girls to achieve their potential as they don’t miss out on classes and socializing with their friends, it also raises their self-esteem as they do not have to worry about leaks, and they are also less likely to get infections which can be very uncomfortable and expensive for these poor girls’ families to treat.
Pad Heaven; an initiative that aims to keeps girls in school by providing them with sanitary pads, has partnered with the Bloggers Association of Kenya to launch a campaign called #GiftAGirl. On 13th February 2014 Pad Heaven will be giving gift baskets to 300 girls at Shadrack Kimelel Primary School in Ngumo. BAKE already has a book project at the school called ‘Adopt a library’. Each of Pad Heaven’s gift baskets will contain 1 year’s supply of sanitary pads, 3 pairs of undergarments, a booklet on Menstrual Health, a bar of chocolate, biscuits, a soft drink, a rose flower, and a customized card with a message to empower the girls.
The campaign will be using the Valentine period to cheer up the girls as well as educate them on menstruation and other changes in their bodies and why they are happening, address adolescent girl issues to make sure that the girls do not lose out on education, and above all, create awareness about the big and fairly ignored problem of girls missing school for lack of feminine products.
Part of the #GiftAGirl campaign will be taking place on social media. Men are encouraged to be involved so that they can also part of the conversation on Women’s Reproductive Health.
Pad Heaven is still looking for donations to make this possible. You can make a donation to this worthy cause by donating via Mpesa Number 0714-880917 to Pad Heaven founder Florence Kamaitha.