Nyeri Deputy Governor Caroline Karugu has called on the government to set up sanitary towel dispensers in all public schools just as there are condom dispensers in hospitals.
The move she says will help keep girls in schools and enhance hygiene adding that the dispensers should be put in washrooms where girls can access them whenever need be.
“The government needs to have a good program that ensures that we have sanitary towel dispensers within all the washrooms of these young girls to ensure menstrual hygiene is upheld,” Karugu said.
She spoke at DEB Muslim Primary School in Nyeri County on Friday during ceremonies to mark the World Menstrual Hygiene Day 2021 whose theme was Action and Investment in Menstrual Hygiene and Health.
The Deputy governor distributed sanitary towels to about 250 girls to last them for 8 weeks.
“The aim of this day is to destigmatize the taboo that comes with menstruation for our young girls and to encourage them that this is indeed an important stage of life and a stage that should be more celebrated and less frowned about,” she said.
She continued, “We have taken time to also speak to them and mentor them about being women of substance and being women of purpose and we hope this is a message that can go across the entire county especially to our girls.”
She noted that many girls became pregnant during the Covid -19 lockdown in exchange for sex for pads. Karugu said some school girls agree to sex so they can get cash to buy towels.
She said about 15 percent of girls, particularly those from poor backgrounds and slums have had difficulties affording sanitary towels.
Matter In Court
On Friday, a lawyer filed a petition at the high court seeking to have the government directed to provide sanitary towels to school-going girls and public institutions.
Elvis Begi Nyachiro Abenga seeks a declaration to issue that the provision of free sanitary towels to all school-going girls is part of realizing the right to the highest attainable standard of health which is the duty of the
Respondents (the Attorney General and Cabinet Secretary Health).
The petitioner claims that the Providence of male condoms is enough to show the government has resources for sanitary towels.
“A declaration does issue that the State’s providence of male condoms is sufficient evidence to show that resources are available and that the State has no defense under Article 20 of the 2010 Constitution,” states the lawyer.
Abenga claims that with the current economic conditions, it is very challenging for most girls to afford sanitary towels.
“As a result of lack of sanitary towels, more than 60 % of girls in impoverished homes and areas in Kenya miss schooling during their menses, in addition to suffering from gross indignity,” says Abega.
He noted that the state is providing free condoms in every public institution adding that if that is possible, then there is no compelling reason why the state cannot afford the sanitary towels to school-going children.
“The provision of sanitary towels to school girls is essential to upholding their inherent right to human dignity respected and protected,” he asserts in his court papers.
According to the petitioner, each person has the right to the highest achievable standard of health, which involves the right to healthcare services including reproductive health care adding that in realizing this right, it is the State’s responsibility to provide sanitary towels to all school girls.
The matter will be mentioned again on 2nd June 2021