Over 800,000 girls in public schools including those in Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps will benefit from three months’ supply of sanitary towels courtesy of the M-PESA Foundation.
The Sanitary towels being distributed to all class 8 and Form 4 candidates in public schools courtesy of the M-PESA Foundation and Ministry of Education can now be collected from the various sub-county education offices around the country.
The Menstrual Health package consists of 3 packets of sanitary pads enough to last 3 months, 3 pieces of underwear and a menstrual health information booklet.
By Friday 18th October, all sanitary towels meant for secondary school students had been delivered to the sub-county education offices while those meant for class 8 girls will delivered by 25th October.
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The Kenya Certificate of Secondary Examinations (KCSE) kick off on 21st October while the Kenya Certificate of Primary Exams start on 28th October 2019.
On Tuesday, Prof. Magoha said his ministry and M-pesa Foundation have partnered with local manufacturers to produce sanitary towels at a cost lower than wholesale price.
“The government is committed to give sanitary pads to girls apart from providing free primary education and free day secondary education,” he said
Prof. Magoha said the government spends sh470 million to provide pads to at least 1.4 million girls for a period of four months, which he said is inadequate.
“The Ministry decided to partner with M-Pesa Foundation to meet the demand so that all girls can receive the sanitary towels,” said Prof. Magoha.
The CS at the same time directed the officers in his ministry to ensure that the sanitary pads are given to the girls without bias.
The Chairman, M-pesa Foundation, Mr. Michael Joseph said the Foundation will work with local manufacturers to produce the pads which will be distributed by the Ministry of Education at an estimated cost of sh281 million.
“The girls will receive menstrual health package consisting of three packet of sanitary pads enough to last for three months, three pieces of underwear and a menstrual health information booklet all enclosed in a drawstring bag,” he said.
“It is wrong when a natural occurrence turns a moment of shame for our young girls. We have continuously seen young girls in parts of the country result to using bits of mattresses, old cloths, leaves or even sheets of newspapers as makeshift pads,” said Joseph.
He noted that the girls are forced to use mattresses and others because they cannot afford sanitary towels saying that this makes them to live in isolation during menstruation which affects their education.
Mr. Joseph said it is saddening that some girls engage in risky sexual behaviour to get money to buy pads, saying that the partnership will bring back dignity to the young girls.
The government introduced the National Free Sanitary Towel Programme to provide sanitary towels to school girls, train them on hygienic usage and disposal of sanitary towels, as well as to monitor and evaluate its impact, Joseph explained.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Director Fathiaa Abdalla said UNHCR has partnered with M-pesa Foundation to provide girls in Kakuma and Daadab refugee camps with pads besides supporting their education.
“Over 450 girls will benefit from the free sanitary pads distribution in the refugee camps,” said Abdalla.
She said globally refugees have less access to education, lack supplies of sanitary pads and other relevant facilities.
So far, 40 sub counties have received the menstrual package.