Makueni, Kitui first to get free sanitary pads for schoolgirls

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Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs CS Margaret Kobia on Friday flagged off the distribution of one million sanitary towels to girls in Makueni and Kitui counties.

A total of 250,250 schoolgirls are targeted in the distribution that will act as a pilot programme.

Kobia said the pads will address the reproductive health needs of adolescent girls to ensure that they remain in school. School attendance will ensure improved education performance and increased transition to higher levels of learning.

Of the consignment, 444, 868 sanitary towels will be distributed to 111,217 girls in Makueni and another 556, 132 towels for 139,033 girls in Kitui.

Other counties will receive their consignments in the course of the month, Kobia said.

The government allocated Sh470 million to the gender department ministry to buy the towels.

A total of 14.8 million sanitary towels were bought, They will be distributed to all counties with an estimated 3.7 million schoolgirls targeted.

The government wants to eliminate absenteeism during menstrual cycle to increase retention of girls in schools and improve their academic performance.

“Adolescence is a crucial stage of life and can be very challenging for most girls because of its physical and psychological changes,” Kobia said.

“The government has committed to provide free, sufficient and quality sanitary towels to all girls enrolled in basic education institutions once they reach puberty stage.”

A report released by UNESCO in 2016 revealed that one in ten African adolescent girls miss school during menses and eventually drop out because of menstruation related issues, such as the inaccessibility of affordable sanitary protection.

In Kenya, 65 per cent of women and girls cannot afford sanitary pads. Menstruation causes the adolescent girls to lose, on average, 3.5 million learning days per month. This equals as much as 20 per cent of a given school year.

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