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Re-usable Sanitary Towels to Help Keep Girls in School

October 31, 2012

Fact: In Kenya, 1 in every 10 girls will miss school for 4 days in a month during her menses due to lack of proper sanitary ware. This totals to 36 days in a 9 month school year. If not missing school, the girl is forced to use inappropriate and unhygienic materials that do not offer sufficient protection, putting her at risk of contracting infections and being the subject of ridicule.

It is these shocking statistics that gave birth to Path to Womanhood, a Kenyan organization that offers training in the manufacture of re-usable sanitary towels and reproductive health education to girls and women from underprivileged backgrounds.

Path to Womanhood founder Naomi Kinyanjui elaborates:

“Citizen TV in Nairobi did a feature on girls in Tana River District who were missing school because they did not have sanitary pads. I could not get over the story for weeks, and I spoke to my friends and family about it every time I got the chance. I knew I had to do something.”

Naomi started with a Facebook page that called for sanitary towel donations for these girls. Over time her foundation has grown to also offer reproductive health education. Lewa’s Education Department, acutely aware that a significant number girls from the Lewa sponsored schools fall in the bracket of those that do not have access to proper sanitary ware, got in touch with this wonderful lady and a creative partnership was crafted.

For three days, the women in the Adult Literacy sewing group were trained how to identify reasonable and safe materials in the area that could be used to make these sanitary towels. They were also taught how to make them and maintain hygiene while using the pads. Lewa’s Education Programme Manager Faith Riunga explains how they plan to implement the project:

“With acquisition of sufficient funds, the women of the Adult Literacy sewing group will make these re-usable pads, which shall then be distributed to the girls in the Lewa sponsored schools. The demand for affordable sanitary ware in the area also presents a business opportunity for the ladies who can make earn extra income by producing them for sale. “

The success of this project will not only ensure that the girls no longer have to miss school, but it will also help restore their dignity.