Kenyan school­girls to re­ceive free san­i­tary tow­els

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

NAIROBI: Kenya has promised free san­i­tary pads to all school­girls to en­cour­age them to go to school dur­ing their pe­ri­ods rather than stay at home with rags in their un­der­wear.

Ev­ery school­girl in Kenya is en­ti­tled to “free, suf­fi­cient and qual­ity san­i­tary tow­els” and a safe place to dis­pose of them, ac­cord­ing to the law in­tro­duced this week.

“We are treat­ing the ac­cess to san­i­tary pads as a ba­sic hu­man right,” gov­ern­ment spokesman Eric Ki­raithe said. One in 10 African girls miss school dur­ing their pe­ri­ods, the UN chil­dren’s agency Unicef es­ti­mates, which means they fall behind in their stud­ies and of­ten drop out of school.

“This will give girls con­fi­dence to at­tend class on any day of the month, con­se­quently im­prov­ing their aca­demic per­for­mance,” said Al­banous Gi­turu, di­rec­tor of Shining Hope for Communities, a girls’ school in Nairobi’s Kib­era slum.

Girls can miss up to 15 days of school each term be­cause they can­not af­ford san­i­tary prod­ucts, he said.

In neigh­bour­ing Uganda, re­searchers from Ox­ford Univer­sity found ab­sen­teeism from school was 17% higher among girls who had no ac­cess to san­i­tary tow­els.

When 10% more girls go to school, a coun­try’s GDP in­creases by an av­er­age of 3%. Each ad­di­tional year of se­condary school­ing leads to a 15-25% in­crease in a girl’s po­ten­tial in­come, say gen­der equal­ity cam­paign­ers.

The pol­icy will cost Kenya $4.8 mil­lion (R62.1m) a year, Ki­raithe said, expanding on a 2011 pro­gramme giv­ing pads to girls from poor fam­i­lies. – Reuters

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