Women’s sanitary health dragged down by tax on products

Everyone in society should play a role in making girls feel comfortable during their time of the month

In Summary

• No woman in this age should have to use any product that is not meant for menstruation. 

• Sexual and reproductive health education to remove the shame associated with menstruation. 

A pack of sanitary pads donated by well wishers to schools
INUA DADA INITIATIVE: A pack of sanitary pads donated by well wishers to schools
Image: FILE

Seven million girls in Kenya lack adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene management, limited access to affordable sanitary material and disposal options, leaving many to manage their periods in ineffective, uncomfortable and unhygienic ways.

Menstruation is a normal biological process and a key sign of reproductive health. In many cultures, it’s treated as something negative, shameful and dirty. The continued silence exposes girls to little knowledge of what’s happening to their bodies. Lack of access to sexual and reproductive health information makes them feel shameful about the changes in their bodies.

Risk of sexually transmitted infection is higher during menstruation because the blood creates a pathway for bacteria to travel back into the uterus. This includes the use of unclean pieces of cloth.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta’s  Inua Dada Initiative helped girls in Rift valley during their menses by providing and supplying products to the schools. It was shocking to learn the things girls use as they cannot afford good quality sanitary products. There is a need to advocate for the removal of taxes from menstrual products to improve access. Also, more involvement of men on menstrual hygiene management will lower the stigma and discrimination of women and girls during menstruation.

There is a need to clear the myths and misconceptions on menstrual hygiene and provide appropriate information to women and girls. Everyone including parents, teachers, men and the society should support the move to make access to sanitary towels easier and minimise negative implications such as absenteeism from school during that time of the month. 

Network for Adolescent and Youth of Africa