- Nominated Senators Miraj Abdillahi and Gloria Orwoba on Friday said girls’ monthly periods have not been taken as seriously.
- The senators said school girls do not have to miss school for about a week because of the monthly period.
It is sad and unacceptable to see school girls suffer emotional and physical distress because of shameful scenes caused by monthly periods, two legislators have said.
Nominated Senators Miraj Abdillahi and Gloria Orwoba on Friday said girls’ monthly periods have not been taken as seriously as they deserve.
“This period for a school girl has been taken as a normal thing. But it is sad that girls have to undergo shame because when it comes, it does not knock. Their peers do not know how to handle the situation and laugh at them instead,” Abdillahi said.
She spoke at Central Girls Primary School where the two senators launched a Glo Pad Bank, with 10,000 packets of sanitary pads for school girls in Mombasa county.
The senators said school girls do not have to miss school for about a week because of the monthly period as has been happening among girls from humble backgrounds and those in rural areas across the country.
On average, a girl will get her monthly periods for four days, which translates to about 12 days in a term of three months.
However, they are graded and rated the same as their male counterparts who do not have to miss school for any reason of that sort.
“This becomes unfair to the girls,” Abdillahi said.
She said the Glom Pad Bank will help keep the girls in school even during their monthly periods and this will provide a level and fair playing ground for competition with their male counterparts.
The Glo Pad Bank, which will eventually cater for the whole of the Coast region, will complement the Mtoto Asome Initiative run by the Mama Haki Foundation, which ensures that needy and bright children, especially girls, do not miss education.
Mama Haki Foundation is Senator Abdillahi’s initiative.
The Glo Pad Bank is part of the campaign to provide school girls with sanitary pads.
Already, some 50,000 sanitary pads have been distributed to school children in Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale counties through the Mama Haki Foundation.
The Glo Pad Bank, which will have 10,000 sanitary pads at any given time, will eliminate missing classes due to monthly periods.
Senator Orwoba said the Pad Bank is an intervention done as a personal initiative, the brainchild of Senator Abdillahi.
She said she will push through a bill, which is currently in the Senate, which seeks to compel distribution of sanitary pads to all school-going girls in schools.
“Initially, we had a budget of Sh260 million for this initiative. But when the William Ruto government came in and with the Women Charter, we got a budget of Sh940 million for sanitary pads,” Orwoba said.
Abdillahi said they have also sought to be allowed some space in the industrial parks under the Trade Ministry to bring investors to produce the sanitary pads locally.
This will ensure as many pads as possible are made and made easily accessible to the girls.
Orwoba and Abdillahi said the sanitary pad initiative will also safeguard girls from being exploited by sex predators.
Boda boda riders and other sex pests have been taking advantage of the desperation of girls, especially in rural and urban poor areas, to gain knowledge of their private parts using sanitary pads to lure them.
For instance, in May, teachers and parents at Kashani Primary School in Kisauni sub-county raised alarm over the number of girls being impregnated by boda boda riders.
According to community members, as many as 20 underage girls, most of them in primary school, in the Kashani area are expectant as a result of that exploitation.
Senator Abdillahi said poverty pushes schoolgirls into doing things that they later regret in life.
However, she cautioned them against falling prey to the boda boda riders, saying no amount of suffering should lead one to let their guard down and losing their dignity.
“I know there are many challenges but be careful. Early pregnancy will keep you forever in the cycle of poverty,” Abdillahi warned girls.
“It is not right for school girls to exchange their bodies for sanitary pads, which cost Sh50, yet condoms are being distributed everywhere by the government. The government should also distribute sanitary pads.”
She said empowering the girl child will solve many of the problems that society faces today including unwanted pregnancies and early marriages.
She said the Child, Parent Care and Protection Bill, which she has sponsored in the Senate, will empower the girl child, including those who got pregnant while still in school be able to go back to school.
“We live in a vicious cycle of poverty, which if not checked, condemns girls to oppression. We ought to realize that if a child dirties the thigh, we should not cut off the whole leg,” Abdillahi said.
Mombasa deputy county commissioner Ronald Muiwawi said the Glo Pad Bank will keep the girl child in school and give the Coastal girls a competitive age when it comes to competing nationally.
“Everyone knows the quality of education in Mombasa county as a whole has been very low. Our performance has been down. This is one intervention of filling this gap,” said Muiwawi.
The DCC said the senators are also role models for the girls who will then work hard to be like them.
Most schools being day schools, Muiwawi said they will make sure the urban security is top-notch to ensure the girls get the requisite education without having to worry about their security.
To realize this, he said, the security apparatus will dismantle all the criminal gangs in Mombasa.
Mombasa county director of Education James Gachungi said the sanitary pad will give the girls confidence.
“We are going to have a situation where girls will not be dropping out of school and they will not miss school for almost two weeks a term. They will then get quality education,” Gachungi said.
He said they will work closely with all the relevant leaders including the Mombasa governor and all other elected leaders to ensure girls get the quality education they deserve.