Linet Aguma is the program manager at the Buckner Family Hope Center™ in Kenya. Today on World Health Day, she explains how period poverty is directly affecting girls and women in Kenya.
Studies show that up to 65% of women and girls in Kenya cannot afford feminine hygiene products. Since commercial sanitary products are highly expensive to purchase in country, some girls without access to feminine menstruation products may resort to having sex to pay for items and in the end get pregnant or contract sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV.
Education is greatly needed to teach females about proper hygiene; however, it is difficult for girls to get an education when they don’t have access to products in order to attend school. As many as one million girls in Kenya miss school each month as a result of their periods and the lack of hygiene products needed.
Did you know?
- One in every 10 females is unable to afford feminine hygiene products in Kenya.
- One in every seven females had to borrow a sanitary product from a friend due to affordability issues.
- One in every 10 females had to improvise a hygiene solution during their monthly menstruation.
How does period poverty affect school-age girls in Kenya?
Many school-age girls suffer shame, anxiety and embarrassment during their menstrual period due to lack of sanitary pads. Some choose to stay home until their period is over, which affects performance in school.
Lack of proper education on menstrual hygiene has also greatly contributed to girls losing hope in education, resulting in elevated drop-out rates and an increase in teenage pregnancies.
How does period poverty affect working-age women in Kenya?
It’s difficult for women from poverty-stricken homes to mix freely with other women, attend church or interact in group activities during their menstrual periods.
Some women choose to hide in their homes and stay indoors since they cannot afford feminine hygiene products. This makes it hard for them to go out and look for employment, which in turn makes it challenging to feed their children.
Poverty and illiteracy have contributed to girls and women not being able to achieve their goals in life.
Do people talk about period poverty in Kenya?
Traditionally, menstruation is not a subject discussed openly by anyone. It’s been left to females to handle, and some are illiterate and have no idea of how to go about it.
Many girls from poverty-stricken homes resort to using pieces of old torn clothes for hygiene needs, which at times leak or are unsanitary, making them additionally uncomfortable in class, groups or before their friends.
What is the best way to help females affected by period poverty in Kenya?
The urgent need is access to disposable feminine hygiene products. These products are not cost effective to purchase in country, although Buckner is exploring options for the future.
Buckner has set up an Amazon Wish List so people can easily and conveniently purchase products that can be shipped with other humanitarian aid to the Buckner Family Hope Center in Kenya. There is also a donation page for this cause to benefit girls and women in Kenya.
You can also follow this cause to learn more about the females impacted by period poverty and how you can play a part to help spread the word.
What type of feminine hygiene products do girls and women need in Kenya?
Disposable pads and period underwear are the items being collected and prepared for shipment to Kenya. We cannot ship reusable (cloth) items and are not accepting tampons. Please see our Amazon Wish List for items that can be shipped to Kenya.
What else can I do to help end period poverty?
Pray. Pray for girls and women in Kenya and other females around the world affected by a lack of access to basic hygiene products. Pray for more education among girls and women in countries where this topic cannot be freely discussed and that more people help normalize the conversation to help those suffering in silence.