Bringing an end to Period Poverty
Updated: Aug 24, 2022
The Cycle with Dignity project is a direct response to the needs of thousands of girls and women in Njoro, Kenya who suffer stigma, humiliation and despair every month when they don’t have access to menstrual products due to poverty.
Period poverty affects women and girls all over the world who do not have access to the safe, hygienic menstrual products they need, and/or who are unable to manage their periods with dignity. As well as awful effects on health, period poverty can ruin girls’ education, destroy women’s ability to work, and create deep feelings of shame and mental distress.
Approximately 50% of school-age girls in Kenya do not have access to menstrual products and it is estimated that one in 10 adolescent girls in Kenya miss school because they do not have access to menstrual products and eventually drop out because of menstruation-related issues. These figures are reflective of the situation in the Njoro communities we serve.
Period poverty presents serious health risks to women and girls who do not have the sufficient resources or knowledge to deal with their periods. Girls are known to be using dirty rags or even sharing used pads and most do not have access to clean running water, safe spaces to change or proper sanitary towel disposal. We have also heard first-hand from young girls who say they feel they have no alternative but to trade sex for menstrual products, leaving them vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases. The lack of education, the social stigmas related to menstruation and the culture of silence that surrounds it, makes it extremely difficult for girls and women to speak out about such issues.
There are no reusable pads or alternatives to the single use pads sold in shops, in Njoro and with no waste services in Njoro, these used pads are discarded in open waste sites where children play and search for scrap metal to sell, or they are burnt. Both ways cause risk to health and the environment.
There are thousands of girls in local schools needing menstrual products plus girls in the community not in school and women in the community living in poverty, unable to afford menstrual products. Currently, the Kenyan government reports that it is providing sanitary pads to girls in schools, but in reality, the provision is inadequate and inconsistent with only 2 packs given to girls every 3 or more months, in Njoro. Well-wishers sometimes donate single use pads but again, this is inadequate for the need. Sanitary towel donations are wonderful but they aren’t sustainable as a long-term solution. Nor are they good for the environment.
The Cycle with Dignity project provides an eco-friendly, long-term solution to period poverty in Njoro by providing packs of reusable sanitary pads to girls in local schools, girls and women with disabilities and girls and women living in poverty. Each girl or women receives a pack of six cloth sanitary pads and bag. If properly cared for, each pad should last several years.
Education alongside the practical action is essential if we are going to change attitudes, reduce period stigma and normalise menstruation for the generations to come. The project provides education to girls and boys by visiting schools and talking to pupils about menstrual health and hygiene.
The pads are made by local women using local materials, creating jobs that allow them to work from home whilst caring for their children.
- Girls and young women living in poverty have access to needed sanitary pads.
- Prevents abuse and exploitation of girls and young women who can't afford menstrual products.
- Improves personal hygiene, health and wellbeing.
- Dignity for girls and young women during their menstrual cycle.
- Higher school attendance.
- Reduces plastic waste and an eco-friendly alternative to single use sanitary pads.
- Generates income for a local women and their families.
- Educates young girls and boys about menstruation.
- Reduces period stigma and discrimination.
Just £6 will provide a girl with a pack of 6 pads. Join us in ending period poverty in Njoro.
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