Over eighty per cent of girls in the country still cannot afford to buy sanitary pads. A survey done by Proctor and Gamble and Heart Education, 42 per cent of girls interviewed did not use sanitary towels during their menses. The girls said they used other alternatives such as blankets, rags, mattress pieces, handkerchiefs, tissues paper and cotton wool because sanitary towels are expensive. They also wear more than one underpant during their menstruation.
However, 60 per cent of those who have received sanitary towels from charitable organisations do not have underwear. Fifteen per cent of those who own panties use them as a way of managing their menstruation. Although 70 per cent of the girls said their teachers advised them on period management, it continues to be a taboo topic. This implies the need to improve the communication channels both at school and at home.
Procter and Gamble’s Communication manager Irene Mwathi asked well wishers to include at least 3 panties when giving sanitary donations. “Through the Freedom for girls and Always keeping girls in school program which was initiated in 2008 we have managed to provide vulnerable, adolescent girls with the education and product (sanitary towels and under panties) needed to successfully manage their periods,” Mwathi said. The program which initially reached 7,764 girls in 2008 had reached 97,000 girls in May of 2013 with an aim of reaching a further 10,000 girls by June of 2015,” she added.
The Study which was completed in 2014 further found out that, 62 per cent of the girls interviewed complained of extreme period pains that hinder proper learning, hence a need to incorporate pain management medication which can be appropriately distributed by the school’s nurse or guidance and counselling facilitator. The baseline survey was carried under the project: “The Freedom for Girls and Always Keeping Girls in School project” supported by funds from Procter and Gamble (P&G) and implemented by Health Education Africa Resource Team (HEART).
The survey was carried out in selected districts in Nyanza, Coast, Eastern, Rift Valley, Nairobi and Central regions covering a total of 35 sampled schools from a total of 104 schools by HEART and a further 123 schools by HEART’s local partners.