Woman representatives across the country have submitted a petition to the government to transfer the function of sanitary towels distribution from the Ministry of Education to that of Gender, to ensure all girls benefit from the initiative including street children and teenagers in slums.
Mombasa Woman Representative Asha Hussein said if approved, girls from poor backgrounds will no longer use other means, including engaging in early sex for money to buy sanitary towels.
“When the Ministry of Education receives the sanitary towels, they do not involve us, they only consider girls in government schools, but we have girls who have dropped out of schools in slums and streets who cannot access the sanitary towel,” said Ms Hussein.
“We have experienced an increase in teenage pregnancies in our country and most of these girls are taken advantage of by men who give them money to buy essential commodities like pads and body lotion which their parents cannot afford,” she said.
Her sentiments were echoed by the director of Coast Women’s Voice Ms Halima Mohammed, who said some girls use boxes and rags as alternatives to pads.
“We do not want a situation where our girls resolve to kill themselves because of shame or endangering their health. We want to make sanitary towels accessible by all girls in Kenya,” she said.
She added that they have started a campaign to support teenage girls who got pregnant during the Covid-19 break to go back to school.
At the same time, Ms Mohammed tasked the government to implement policies that will not allow defilement perpetrators to be released on bail while the cases are ongoing.
“How can a child feel safe when the person who defiled them is walking free?” she posed.
Founder of local NGO, Green Movement, Ms Hamisa Zaja, urged parents to enrol their children in sports activities to keep them occupied.
“Sports will enable them handle their feelings and also promote mental health.” she said.