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Period Poverty in KenyaPeriod poverty in Kenya, or poor access to menstrual hygiene facilities, products and education, marginalizes women. In the year 2016, “a report funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation” noted that about half of Kenyan girls could not openly talk about menstruation due to a negative societal response to the topic. However, organizations and initiatives aim to combat menstrual stigma and fight period poverty in Kenya.

5 Solutions to Fight Period Poverty in Kenya

  1. Increasing Access to Sanitary Products. To fight period poverty in Kenya, it is important to ensure free or affordable access to sanitary products for all young girls. Access to menstrual products can keep girls in school, which will reduce the disproportionate dropout rates between boys and girls when transitioning into high school. In May 2021, a Kenyan citizen filed a petition to have the Kenyan government provide sanitary products in schools for free.
  2. Proper Policy Implementation. The government must properly implement policies that aim to combat period poverty. In 2017, the government of Kenya passed a law that would have seen all girls receive sanitary products for free while enrolled in school, but this law was not properly implemented. In addition, the government, where possible, must allocate more state funds to ensure more girls can access sanitary products regardless of economic status.
  3. Private Sector Involvement. Procter & Gamble, the company that produces the Always menstrual brand, created the Always Keeping Girls in School program to address period poverty in African countries. Since 2008, this program has donated more than 13 million pads to more than 200,000 girls in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. Similarly, Bayer employees have shown initiative by providing free menstrual cups to girls in Kenya. Involving the private sector in the fight against period poverty would also help the Kenyan government implement its policies better.
  4. More Education Initiatives. Innovative programs focused on key populations have emerged to fight period poverty in Kenya. For example, the United Nations Population Fund partnered with a grassroots organization called This-Ability Trust, which has been providing menstrual education to those with disabilities. Puberty education is also crucial. Currently, only about 50% of girls are willing to openly discuss menstrual health matters in family settings. Breaking the silence by educating pubescent teens and adolescents on the importance of menstrual health will encourage them to approach their teachers, parents and guardians for further guidance.
  5. Support During the COVID-19 Pandemic. Lastly, aid is needed to help Kenya recover from the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic, which had indirect effects on period poverty. Quarantine measures in Kenya meant that women and girls could not access health services that provide sanitary products for free. Economic stresses also meant girls and women could not afford sanitary products. Organizations like Plan International have been able to lend a helping hand to girls who live in slums. Plan International distributed almost 3,000 sanitary products to women in Kenya’s Kibera slum in partnership with the Kenyan organization ZanaAfrica. Since 65% of women and girls in Kenya are unable to access sanitary products due to economic reasons, these humanitarian efforts help fight period poverty in Kenya.

Looking to the Future

By focusing on such solutions to fight period poverty in Kenya, the Kenyan government and nonprofit organizations can empower and uplift impoverished Kenyan women. Reducing period poverty in Kenya ensures that the lives of girls and women are not disrupted simply due to the inability to afford menstrual products.

– Frank Odhiambo
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Girls Through Education
While 91% of children around the world go to primary school, only 50% of refugee children are as lucky. These odds are startling, especially considering that 69 million girls remain out of school worldwide and that this number is expected to increase due to the refugee crisis. UNESCO plans to change that.

“Changing the World of Refugee Girls Through Education” is the aim of UNESCO’s new partnership with Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Save the Children, showcased in late January. Its main goal is to raise awareness of the extreme vulnerability of refugee girls and to secure solutions for their future through education and skills development.

The project is geared toward Syrian and Jordanian women who struggle to continue basic education or pursue work opportunities. The partners are working to help develop the life, business and vocational skills of these women, all while encouraging them to share their experiences.

The program, which is based in Jordan, offers refugee girls innovative job search techniques and helps them develop skills required to gain employment. In addition to all this, UNESCO helps them find opportunities in today’s global marketplace. If needed, one-on-one psychological counseling is also provided.

Schools also play an important role in identifying refugee children at risk of abuse, sexual and gender-based violence as well as forced recruitment. Even more so, they can help connect them with appropriate services, according to a recent UNESCO report.

Classrooms can also act as a place of transformation for many kids. Becoming educated can help one become a well-rounded person and gain a foundation of learning, which is a big step in helping one stand on his or her own feet.

This is even more important for refugee girls. Educating these girls empowers them and reduces the number of girls getting married at a very young age. This is a massive problem for girls in developing countries, where one in three girls is married before the age of 18.

Solving such a problem requires commitment, time and effort. This is just what the UNESCO partnership is hoping to accomplish by supporting refugee girls, raising their confidence and shaping their future.

Mayan Derhy

Photo: Flickr

Clinton Advocates for Clean Drinking Water
Effective collaboration between corporations, nongovernmental organizations, governments and individuals can help eliminate mortality caused by unclean drinking water, according to Chelsea Clinton.

Through her work with the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), the daughter of the former US president has visited communities to witness the benefits of work being done to fight water-borne diseases. The tremendous strides made in recent years inspire hope that an end to deaths caused by public health scourges like water-borne illnesses and AIDS is possible, Clinton says.

“From reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS to providing clean drinking water to rural communities, these programs are examples of how, when corporations, NGOs, governments, and people work together, incredible strides can be made to [overcome] challenges that were once thought intractable. These achievements give me hope that other countries will be able to replicate these models and provide similar health care access to individuals — and that, in my lifetime, we’ll achieve an AIDS-free generation and eliminate mortality caused by unclean water,” Clinton wrote in a recent Huffington Post column about her travels in Asia.

Unclean water is responsible for thousands of deaths annually from cholera, diarrhea and other water-borne illnesses.  Globally, according to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), 2,000 children die every day from diarrheal diseases caused by unsafe water. That is more than HIV/AIDS and malaria combined.

The Clinton Global Initiative is currently in a partnership with Procter & Gamble (P&G) to deliver clean water in Myanmar (also known as Burma). Clinton visited a village there where P&G had been working for a couple of months. P&G has made a  commitment to CGI to deliver more than two billion liters of clean drinking water every year by 2020, the goal being to save one life every hour of every day of every week of every year.

P&G also recently announced a partnership with USAID focused on child and maternal health in Myanmar, which will provide 200 million more liters of clean drinking water in the next two years. The initiative will provide villages with P&G Purifier of Water packets. The investment will be about $2 million over the first two years of the partnership, according to USAID. This is not the first time USAID has partnered with P&G to provide clean drinking water. The two organizations have previously partnered in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Malawi, Nicaragua, Pakistan and other countries.

– Liza Casabona

Sources: Huffington Post, USAID
Photo: NY Magazine