By Joy Mwema
In a bid to address the pressing issue of menstrual hygiene and its impact on girls’ education, Chakol North ward MCA Dalmas Onjole, together with menstrual hygiene champions Tinah Namaindi from the Office of the Governor and Priscilla Juma from the Health Department, recently distributed sanitary pads to teenage girls at Ng’elecom Primary School in Teso South sub-county.
During the event, Busia Deputy Governor Arthur Odera called on men to break their silence surrounding menstrual hygiene and actively support girls.
He emphasized the importance of fathers in providing sanitary pads for their daughters, urging them to approach the topic without shame or embarrassment.
Odera further stressed that menstrual hygiene is a societal issue that affects everyone, and no gender should shy from their responsibility to ensure girls have access to proper menstrual care.
The deputy governor highlighted the adverse effects of the lack of menstrual hygiene on girls’ education, citing a research study titled ‘Effects of menstruation on academic performance of teenage girls in Kenya: A case study of Busia County.’
The study, conducted by Marceline Auma, revealed that the absence of sanitary pads leads to multiple school absences, hampering the quality of education girls receive.
Another study showed that about 20% of women and girls from rural and urban areas make proxy menstrual products to manage their menstruation due to the unaffordability of MHH products.
These proxy products include toilet paper, blanket pieces, cloth, or other natural materials. These expose the girls to health risks and showcase a culture of shame and silence.
Seeing the need for a collective effort, Odera announced that the county government, through the Health Department, would allocate funds to produce sanitary pads in schools.
Moreover, the government will launch advocacy programs aimed at encouraging men to actively participate in promoting menstrual hygiene and eliminating the stigma surrounding menstruation.
This campaign aligns with the Menstrual Hygiene Management Policy: 2019-30, adopted by Kenya in 2019, which seeks to ensure that all women and girls in the country can manage menstruation hygienically, freely, and without stigma.
The policy emphasizes access to information, products, services, and facilities related to menstrual hygiene management and the safe disposal of menstrual waste.