The M-Pesa Foundation has committed Kshs. 22.5 million to improve menstrual hygiene among teenage girls as part of Safaricom’s twentieth anniversary celebrations. The Foundation in partnership with Huru International (a non – governmental organization) will distribute sanitary towels and offer sexual and reproductive health education to 30,000 teenage girls in Kilifi, Siaya and Murang’a counties.
“We have in the recent past seen stories of teenage girls – especially from disadvantaged backgrounds – trading sex for sanitary towels. It is a sad state of affairs when teenage girls are reduced to making such compromises to access a basic need,” said Les Baillie, executive director, M-Pesa Foundation.
The programme will also create awareness among ten thousand adolescent boys on menstruation, sexual reproductive health and life skills, besides enabling fifty seven community-based mentors to support the adolescents.
“It is our hope that with these interventions, we will safeguard teenage girls in Kenya through improved menstrual hygiene and adolescent sexual reproductive health education,” Baillie said.
Statistics by Procter and Gamble indicate that 65% of women and girls in Kenya cannot afford sanitary pads while 42% of school going girls have never used them. Most of them seek unhygienic homemade alternatives such as rags, pieces of mattress, blankets, tissue paper and cotton wool. Last year, the M-Pesa Foundation provided three months’ supply of sanitary towels to 800,000 girls who were sitting for their final year national examinations.