Sh2.6bn sought for sanitary towels

PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | FILE A selection of sanitary towels on display at a supermarket. The Ministry of Education wants the Treasury to allocate funds to buy sanitary towels for girls from poor families in the next financial year.

What you need to know:

  • Cabinet Secretary says project is expected to benefit millions of girls who skip school during their menstrual cycle

The Ministry of Education wants the Treasury to allocate Sh2.6 billion to buy sanitary towels for girls from poor families in the next financial year.

The money will buy sanitary towels to be given free to more than 2.6 million girls, according to proposals presented to the Parliamentary Committee on Education.

Of these, 2.2 million are in primary schools and 400,000 in secondary.

In this financial year, 568,945 needy girls received sanitary pads to help improve their literacy levels. Of these, 97.9 per cent were from public primary schools while the rest were from special primary and special secondary schools.

It is estimated that girls from poor families missed school for up to six days each month when they have periods.

According to a document presented to the Parliamentary Education committee by Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi, the government spent Sh300 million on the project. This was Sh60 million more than it did in the previous financial year when 443,858 girls were supplied with the sanitary towels.

In 2012/2013, the girls given were between Standard Six to Eight.

Some 568,945 girls in 143 districts received the pads, according to Prof Kaimenyi.

The ministry uses poverty level and the gender parity index to identify those in need. However, priority is given to arid areas.

Prof Kaimenyi said that the supplies suffer from lengthy procurement procedures and inadequate money.

If the ministry is allocated the proposed money, it plans to reach out to more girls.

Former Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo last year asked for more money.

The minister, who died last April, argued that free sanitary pads should be part of the expenditure on free primary education. Girls from poor regions and families were given priority and the money to buy was given out simultaneously with the free learning cash.

An estimated 2.7 million girls aged between nine and 18 years need a regular supply of sanitary towels.

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