800,000 girls sitting for their final year national examinations including those in Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps will benefit from three months’ supply of sanitary towels courtesy of the Safaricom M-PESA Foundation.
The Safaricom M-Pesa Foundation will work with local manufacturers to produce the pads and the Ministry of Education will then distribute them at an estimated cost of Ksh. 281 Million. The girls will receive a Menstrual Health package consisting of three packets of sanitary pads enough to last for three months, 3 pieces of underwear and a menstrual health information booklet all enclosed in a drawstring bag. The distribution will be done before the commencement of the national exams.
A 2016 report by FSG, a global consulting firm, showed that only 65% of women and girls in Kenya can afford sanitary towels. Additionally, it is estimated that girls from disadvantaged families miss at least 20% of school days in a year due to lack of sanitary towels.
Michael Joseph, Chairman of the Safaricom M-PESA Foundation had this to say, “It is wrong when a natural occurrence turns into a moment of shame for our young girls. We have continuously seen young girls in parts of the country result to using bits of mattresses, old cloths, leaves or even sheets of newspapers as makeshift pads because they cannot afford sanitary towels. This makes them live in isolation during menstruation and this affects their education.”
The M-Pesa Foundation is one of the CSR arms of Kenyan telecommunication company Safaricom. The other one is the Safaricom Foundation.