Elgon Young Professionals (EYP) Sanitary Towels Distribution at Kitalale K.A.G Church ‘The Church of Scholars

On Wednesday, 23rd September 2020, Elgon Young Professionals (EYP) visited the Kitalale K.A.G Church ‘The Church of Scholars’ where they imparted life skills advice to approximately one hundred and fifty five (155) young women. Led by the Chairman, Mr. Allan Mayiek, EYP distributed two packets of sanitary pads to the girls. The sanitary pads were purchased from a generous contribution by the EYP members.
In the remote areas of Kitalale, in Trans Nzoia County the sudden closure of schools in March 2020 was a double tragedyforthe young schoolgoingchildren. It meant that they would lose out not only on learning, but also on free access to sanitary towels provided under a government scheme to promote menstrual health and hygiene.
As the global lockdown occasioned by COVID-19 has forced people to stay home and live on reduced income, girls from local areas and other millions of girls around the world are struggling to access sanitary pads.

“We can’t access these (government) pads until we go back to school. Our mum cannot afford to buy us pads and also provide for food. So we mostly depend on well wishers ” Chebet said.

“We are five girls in our house, and the pads are usually not enough for all of us. Sometimes we ask our brothers to chip in.”

The Kenyan government, through the State Department for Gender Affairs, runs a programme to provide free sanitary towels to some 3.7 million girls in public primary schools, special primary and secondary schools in the country.

The scheme is essential in a country where over 65% of people who menstruate cannot afford sanitary towels, according to figures cited in the 2016 report Menstrual Health in Kenya, published by non-profit consulting firm FSG.

It also showed that 6 out of 10 girls in Kenya had never heard about menstruation until their first period.

The government-funded sanitary towel program was initiated in 2011 and has so far benefited over 11.2 million girls, mostly in marginalised and slum areas, according to the ministry.  The closure of schools in March due to COVID-19 halted pad distribution.

“But with COVID-19, things have changed. Schools closed abruptly and these girls are out of school,” Allan Mayiek said.

“Sometimes we get short of supplies because we depend on our own eyp members contributions which means the girls that we have not reached will go for alternative avenues. These could lead to dropping out of school or even teenage pregnancies yep Chair added.

According to a UNESCO report, Puberty Education & Menstrual Hygiene Management, one in ten girls in sub-Sahara Africa misses school during their periods, losing up to 20 school days a year and increasing their chance of dropping out altogether.

Claire, one of the teachers, says that while students benefited from the free sanitary pads while in school, it has become harder to most of them to afford them after they have finished their secondary school education.

“Sometimes they have to use rags or borrow from friends,” Claire said.

For the girls in Kitalale and Mt. Elgon specifically, there is hope for more robust support from eyp as they continue to face their menstrual challenges.

By Joel Naburuk

Head of Communications.