A study sponsored by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found that approximately 65% of women and girls in Kenya are unable to afford sanitary pads. Other studies have shown that many girls drop out of school when they hit menarche and many miss up to 5 days of school every month. Many girls of the schools we work with stayed at home during their periods which led to absenteeism which meant they were always having to play catch-up at school. This then leads to many of them dropping out.
Many girls, especially those living in rural areas, have no option but to skip school during their periods because they don't have access to sanitary pads. This naturally affects their attendance and performance in class. Absenteeism caused because of this means most girls are playing catch up in class. This is evident by the number of girls that drop out of school once they start menstruating. This is even more evident in Standard 8, which is the most basic school education one can receive.
RKF has partnered with AFRIpads to ensure that girls who don't have access to sanitary pads will now have access to a Deluxe Kit. With access to re-usable sanitary pad kits that last a minimum of 12 months, girls can keep up their attendance in school and not worry about having to play catch up. Furthermore, coupled with access to positive educational material and workshops around menstruation, all the students will have proper knowledge of how to manage their periods in a healthy manner.
Despite an increase in literacy levels, the actual number of illiterate people in Sub-Saharan Africa (202 million) is rising. Two-thirds of this number are women and girls. Educating the current generation of girls is one of the most powerful things we can do as a generation to achieve the SDGs and break the cycle of poverty in many communities. But it must start with empowering every young girl with education. A sanitary pad kit is one such tool to help achieve this goal.