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PETITION

Janet Mbugua calls on MPs to amend menstrual health plan

Current policy leaves out the disabled, refugees and inmates from sanitary pad provisions, she says

In Summary

• She says poor women lag in MHM education and struggle to get quality, low-cost products.

Janet Mbugua
Janet Mbugua
Image: Courtesy

Award-winning media personality Janet Mbugua has petitioned Parliament to improve on the Menstrual Health Management Policy in Kenya to ensure all women in Kenya are receiving adequate MHM services.

In a statement released on Thursday, Janet said, “As we count down to Menstrual Health Management Day on May 28 (tomorrow), I demand more action and progress towards improved MHM in Kenya.

“Every day, women and girls who lack the income and access to afford sanitary products face significant barriers, including insufficient education about MHM and inadequate access to quality, low-cost products.”

These barriers, she says, hurt women and girls in various ways. There are women who can’t afford menstrual health products and are forced to use homemade materials, which are often ineffective and can lead to infections and other health issues.

There are girls who don’t have access to sanitary products, and as a result, they feel they have no option but to stay home while menstruating, due to fear and shame, which deprives them of getting a quality education.

What’s worse, she says, there are women and girls who are engaging in transactional sex to purchase sanitary products, putting them at risk through negative power dynamics in their intimate relationships and increased chances of unintended pregnancies and/or contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

 

Janet called out the current government policy on MHM, terming it insufficient. The policy can be found in The Basic Education (Amendment) Act enacted by the Parliament of Kenya in 2017. 

It states that the government will “provide free, sufficient and quality sanitary towels to every girl child registered and enrolled in a public basic education institution who has reached puberty, and provide a safe and environmentally sound mechanism for disposal of the sanitary towels”.

Janet says this policy does not give much detail or information regarding how the government provides distribution and disposal of sanitary products or education on sexual reproductive health.

She says it is only directed towards girls enrolled in public schools, which fails to address the unique needs of other menstruating people, such as low-income women and girls who are not enrolled in public schools, the disabled, refugee populations, and women and girls in juvenile detention facilities, jails, and prisons.

“I demand that you take action towards improving your policy on menstrual health management in Kenya so we can ensure we are supporting all menstruating women and girls, whether in our workplaces, in our communities, or in our homes,” she says.