Every year, over 1 million teenage girls lack access to sanitary pads and reproductive health education in Kenya. They are forced to miss classes during their menstrual cycles, falling behind in their studies or dropping out of school entirely. This perpetuates the vicious cycles of gender inequality and poverty that exists in Kenya. The situation in the informal settlements of Nairobi and rural areas of western Kenya is worse, because many primary school girls have no choice but to use unsafe substitutes for sanitary pads (cow dung, leaves, or rags), or engage in dangerous behaviors like transactional sex to obtain sanitary protection. This increases their vulnerability to early or unplanned pregnancy, child marriage, and sexually transmitted infections such as HIV/AIDS, which can ultimately cause them to drop out of school.
The above struggles are what prompted us to start the Reproductive & Development Health Project. Annually, this project supports over 1,200 local vulnerable girls from the Githurai and Namboboto communities. We provide them with sanitary pads & mentorship each month, reducing school absenteeism amongst girls whilst improving their self-esteem and academic performance.