DSW recently distributed over 3, 400 sanitary towels to young adolescent girls in Kilifi county, coast region in Kenya. This is an effort to ensure more girls stay in school even when they are undergoing changes in their bodies that many times results in them dropping out of school.
Since implementation of the Free Primary Education in 2003, Kenyan public schools have experienced high enrolment rates. Over the years, its been noted that sexual maturity processes has significant impact on the education prospects of both boys and girls. In girls, the onset of menstruation (usually between 10-14 years) is construed to mean the girl is now a woman and a number of them drop out of school to either get married or out of confusion surrounding the physical changes taking place. In other areas, many girls stay at home during their menses as they cannot afford sanitary towels and to avoid ridicule from peers resulting from some of the “oops” moments that may occur. Boys are also viewed to have become men once their voices start breaking, and a number of them drop out of school to assume “mature” roles in society.
DSW in partnership with Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals are presently implementing the Young Adolescents project in Kilifi county aimed at demystifying the physical changes associated with adolescents, and by doing so keep more girls in school. The projects targets 9 primary schools: Benyoka, Lugwa, Mtwapa, Mtomodoni, Bodoi, Msumarini, Kailo, Mtepeni and Vipingo. During the recent event, 2,000 young adolescent girls received 3,492 sanitary towels, 1,600 panties and 1,800 menstrual calendars to enable them keep track of their menstrual cycles. The event was attended by representatives from the Ministries of Education and Health, DSW and other development partners.