Why girls from poor families depend on boyfriends to manage menstruation

Girls with sanitary. PHOTO/Courtesy.

In a move aimed at improving girl child school attendance in Africa, hundreds of Non-Governmental organisations throughout the republic of Kenya are donating millions of free sanitary towels girls and mostly in rural primary schools.

While this is laudable in ensuring that girls are able to stay in class during their menstrual days, these disposable towels cannot be afforded by all the women, and are also a detriment to the environment.

Apart from clogged sewerage systems, secondary schools’ administrations around the country are spending millions of shillings through companies that specialize in collecting, and disposing the already used sanitary pads.

It is not yet clear how much effective the companies are in destroying the towels, but there is a likelihood that about 70 percent of them end up in the open dump sites around the country.

If for example you visit the open dumpsite at Mogotio Westland’s Estate, you will be greeted by a mountain of used sanitary pads, just like massive Molo River, the river that transports her luggage to the Lake Baringo downstream.

The river is choking with hundreds of used sanitary pads, floating in the river all the way from Salgaa trading center, Kamwaura and the entire Njoro catchments.

Some of those disposed sanitary pads can be seen hanging loosely on some tree branches along the river, and can easily be mistaken to be some kind of a bird nests.

With this testimony, one does not need to attend a seminar to understand what will soon happen to the marine Life in Lake Baringo, and especially if those in organic materials end up in the intestines of out treasured Hippos.

With this frightening information in mind, a ray of hope through the Rotary Club of Eldoret may help change this dangerous trajectory.

In partnership with Padmad Reusable Sanitary Pads Project founded by Madhvi Dalal, the Rotary Clubs of Eldoret headed by Eunice Kerich as the President are all in a mission to do away with disposable sanitary Pads. They are now introducing a new brand that can be reused as many times as possible.

 According Madhvi Dalal, founder of the project and working with slum women in Nairobi, her move was inspired by the fact that 65 percent of Kenyan women cannot afford sanitary pads.

“The reusable pads are easy to make and will ensure that a woman or a girl can manage her menstrual flow without digging into her pocket, or engaging in the dangerous transnational sexual relations in order to get money to purchase the pads every month’ said Dalal in an interview with the Scholar at Kipsogon primary school in Mogotio ,where they donated the product in the presence of the Baringo First Lady Her excellency Ivy Kiptis.

Mrs Kiptis used the occasion to reveal that many teenage girls depend on their ‘illegal’ boyfriends to buy sanitary pads for them, and that the same boyfriends end up impregnating them.

“Married bodaboda men are doing a big mess in Baringo. Many girls coming to deliver is Esageri health center point a finger to some married bodaboda men who turn them into mothers, just because they bought sanitary towels for them. Just imagine that for a sanitary towel worth Ksh 35.00, a girls entire life is ruined,’’ said the angry looking Madam Kiptis, a professional in the Health sector who is also advocating that mothers must come to the rescue of their daughters, by helping them manage this biological and very healthy situations.

According to Dalal, the reusable pads are made from old cotton clothes and a girl can learn to make some for herself, and her small sisters.

 “Girls will now take charge of their reproductive lives because these pads are cheap to make and on top of that, they a big advantage to the environment. Disposable sanitary pads take up to 800 years to fully decompose and therefore a threat to mother nature,’’ said Dalal.

Kipsogon Primary School Head Teacher Musa Mutai said many girls miss school each month because their poor parents cannot afford to buy the disposable pads for them.

“Many parents are only concerned about finding the next meal. They don’t have the money to buy sanitary pads for their daughters because to them that is a luxury and therefore, the naive and frightened school girl is left with the responsibility to figure out how to handle her situation,”  said the head teacher, adding that the introduction of the reusable pads is a giant leap in ensuring that girls from poor families will never have their studies disrupted, just because they are in their monthly period.

Dalal said the reusable pads can play a great role in safeguarding our endangered environments, given that one-off use ones can take 800 years to decompose.

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