Cheltenham based charity Global Footsteps has supported the Aniga Women’s Community Based Organisation in Kisumu since the 1990’s with several initiatives. This year saw the latest one when Benter Ndeda, the CEO of the Aniga Women helped Kenyan girl pupils by successfully delivering sanitary pads to local schools in Kisumu County.
Ethical Giving, a charitable organisation, provided £2,000 that was transferred directly to the Aniga Women to support a “period poverty” project.
The successful provision of sanitary pads has helped girls between the ages of 10 and 17 years old to increase their self-esteem, with improved school attendance and information on menstrual hygiene management and awareness of HIV & AIDS.
In Kenya, there are significant cultural taboos around menstruation, which pose a serious challenge to access to sanitary towels. Many girls in Kenya can miss an average of four days of school every month, due to embarrassment and lack of guidance. This means a high likelihood of falling behind or even dropping out. The dropout rate among female students in primary and secondary schools is already a problem in Kenya.
As well as affecting their education, the girls’ health is also endangered by the absence of support and guidance on menstruation. Problems such as unhygienic ways to dry menstrual materials or dispose of them appropriately are commonplace. Girls also worry about leakage and lack of resources (e.g. soap, clean water). Consequently, many girls grow up in isolation with low self-esteem, afraid of prejudices and negative attitudes.
Global Footsteps was able to transfer funds direct to the Aniga Women CBO and then our contact Benter Ndeda travelled from the rural county of Kisumu to Nairobi to purchase the bulk quantity of sanitary pads needed. Weather and road conditions made the trip challenging but she bought a total of 2,050 pieces of sanitary pads, enough to provide 670 pupils, with three months’ supply each and guidance on their use.
A final health concern is that schools cannot effectively dispose of sanitary pads. They use pit latrines as toilets, which quickly fill up. Ideally schools should use an incinerator to dispose of the pads and reduce the risk of disease. Possibly a future project.