Procter & Gamble on Wednesday had the second launch of the Always Keeping Girls in School (AKGIS) program. The initiative which kicked off in 2006 was in response to a study that was done by the Rockerfeller Foundation. The study revealed that 500,000 girls in Kenya miss at least four days of school every month as they are unable to afford sanitary pads and do not always understand the changes their bodies are going through. In fact, studies suggest that around 66 % of girls know nothing about menstruation until confronted with their first periods.

Since the initiative’s launch in 2006, it has been able to reach over 100,000 girls and has supplied over 8 million sanitary towels. The program so far has been a success with research indicating that in places where it has been run, girls are able to concentrate better in class and there was an improvement in their overall performance and attendance. In 2015, the impact of the AKGIS program conducted in Isiolo, Kajiado, Siaya, Marsabit, Laikipia, Samburu, Nyandarua and Narok revealed that; 78% of schools have documented improved girls’ attendance, 75% of adolescent girls reported stronger confidence in saving and money management, 68% of the girls are more comfortable discussing sensitive topics with family members, 60% of the girls acknowledge confidently refusing unwanted sexual advances and 50% of the schools reported improved girls’ academic performance on 2015 national exams.

The program also takes girls through an integrated financial literacy, girl’s puberty, reproductive health and rights. It seeks to abolish the stigma and embarrassment that young girls go through during their periods which can affect their self esteem and confidence. With over 600,000 girls entering puberty every year, the program seeks to complement the government’s efforts in keeping girls in school by providing sanitary pads, pads and puberty education.

During the launch P&G announced a new commitment to help over 12,000 through the provision of 790,000 pads to needy girls from over 100 primary schools in a bid to improve their school attendance for the next one year.