Sanitary dignity for girls

Support My Dream campaign

CEDDG stepped in for vulnerable girls in informal areas who cannot affords sanitary pads during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project, supported by Trocaire with a component on menstrual hygiene, has seen school-going girls in informal settlements of Nakuru County receive menstrual hygiene products to enhance girls’ dignity, confidence and retention in schools.

Read This :   CEDDG steps in for vulnerable girls in informal areas who cannot affords sanitary pads during the COVID-19 pandemic

School-going girls in various informal settlements in Nakuru have continued to face numerous challenges when it comes to matters of menstrual hygiene. The high level of poverty and the COVID-19 pandemic leading to harsh economic times has seen these girls become more vulnerable in society. Many of them are not able to afford sanitary pads during their menstrual times forcing them to stay away from school to avert shame. Others become victims of sexual harassment from the male gender who take advantage in order to get a few coins to purchase the sanitary pads. The county government and even the national government’s COVID-19 cushion program did not factor in sanitary pads for vulnerable girls during the pandemic period.

It is for this reason that Nakuru Civil Society Organizations led by the Centre for Enhancing Democracy-CEDGG in partnership with Nakuru Menstrual Hygiene Network commenced implementation of Project on Social accountability and service delivery as well as sensitization on ending Sexual Gender-Based Violence against women and girls.

CEDGG distribution of dignity packs
Distribution of dignity packs by CEDGG

Ms. Twalha Yusuf- a Form Two student in one of the schools in Nakuru East Sub-county is a beneficiary of the project. In an interview with this writer, Twalha says the high level of poverty has seen many girls in the community become vulnerable with many men taking advantage of them. She added that the fact that girls in the community cannot afford the sanitary pads due to harsh economic times, forces some of them to fall into men’s traps, exchanging sex with them for pads. Twalha is however grateful to the CEDGG and other partners for the project that has ensured girls are retained in school even during their menstrual times. She appealed to the government to ensure the supply of the sanitary pads to all schools to avert girls’ suffering.

The COVID-19 Pandemic has had a negative impact to girl child especially those in the informal settlements. The parents have no jobs to help purchase sanitary pads to the girls.This makes the girls vulnerable and some exchange sex with men to get at least sh.50 to buy the pads.

Ms Twalha Yusuf, Form Two student
Distribution of Dignity Packs

A campaign dubbed ‘Support My Dream’ was also unveiled with the intention to support more girls in the informal settlements within Nakuru County. It is through the campaign that Gilanis Supermarket partnered with CEDGG where the dignity packs were purchased at the Gilanis supermarket at a discounted price. This has seen more than 440 girls benefit from the sanitary packs bringing to a total of 880 girls from various wards of the two sub-counties.

In an interview, Wilkister Akinyi from CEDGG revealed that the project has impacted positively on vulnerable girls in informal settlements.

We realized that during this COVID-19 pandemic, adolescent girls in the informal settlements are becoming more vulnerable with majority unable to afford sanitary pads. When we visited these informal settlements we get to hear very sad stories.

Wilkister Akinyi, CEDGG
Support My Dream poster

According to Akinyi, there has been increasing demand for sanitary commodities and services during the COVID-19 pandemic with even young women still in need hence the need for more resources towards the same. She challenged the county government of Nakuru to ensure increased allocation to improve menstrual hygiene outcomes. “Besides issuing out the sanitary packs to these girls, we through the Nakuru Menstrual Hygiene Network shall continue to advocate for increased allocation through the county budget process towards menstrual hygiene,” said Akinyi.

Cosmas Mutua from Nakuru Menstrual Hygiene Network lauded the Project adding that it came at the right time. Mutua noted that many school-going girls faced a lot of challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic that led to harsh economic times. He revealed that many girls have faced sexual harassment and molestation due to the fact that they cannot afford sanitary pads during their menstrual times. Besides, some girls have been forced to stay out of schools to avert shame as the poverty level in informal settlements renders them more vulnerable. Mutua noted that the project has been of great help to such girls in the informal settlement as they were able to receive the dignity packs. He called on the donor Trocaire to continue stepping in to ensure more girls are reached with the dignity packs in the community. “The project has really helped address many challenges that school girls from informal settlements in Nakuru are facing when it comes to menstrual hygiene,” said Mutua.

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