Menstruation is a natural biological human process girls and women experience recurrently every month but it may not be a topic many people want to discuss because of its conversational discomfort.
However, about 65 per cent of women and girls in Kenya cannot afford basic sanitary pads. Menstrual pads are a first necessity for a girl, especially in remote areas where it is hard to get access. The silence, myths and taboo around the subject of menses overshadow the painful experience women and girls face.
The recent cost of sanitary pads has become a financial burden for many women who cannot afford them. A standard sanitary towel that initially cost Sh45 or even Sh50 now retails at Sh70. Some brands have reduced the number of pads from 10 to eight.
We are in the 21st Century yet many girls are still affected by period poverty, forcing them to improvise unhygienic materials like cheap mattresses, newspapers and even pieces of cloth.
‘Period poverty’ not only includes lack of access to sanitary, both disposable or reusable, female health products but also a lack of access to education products or equality due to menstruation.
Female inequality and overcoming cultural stigma affect her ability to rise above poverty.
Daily, worries may cross a female mind but access to affordable and sanitary feminine hygiene shouldn’t be among them.
But it is commendable that some women who felt this gap have taken the objective to support girls and women by donating sanitary towels in schools and the community. Their efforts will greatly be affected by the increased cost of the towels and their output may be lowered due to lack of enough funds.
It would only be fair that the government reach a deal with the relevant manufacturers to reduce the prices to ensure period poverty becomes a thing of the past. It is not just about staying safe but able to choose the affordable pad you prefer. Say no to the high cost of sanitary pads!
Cynthia Ochieng, Maseno
* * *
Of late, we have had reports on increased violence against women and girls, one of the most prevalent human rights violations that knows no social, economic or national boundaries.
One in three women will experience physical or sexual abuse in her lifetime. Victims can suffer sexual and reproductive health consequences, including forced and unwanted pregnancies. That is a result of disrespect in families, communities and the society.
Let the public be informed about the effects of sexual and gender-based violence In addition, the authorities should mete out stiff penalties against the culprits to stop the vice.
Cleophas Mwangi, Kericho