Boxgirls Kenya did a survey and found out that a majority of the girls missed classes during their periods due to a lack of access to enough sanitary pads to sustain them through their entire cycle.
“Others choose to use old clothes or tissues as pads but they are prone to leaks and that leads to period shaming by their peers so instead, they opt to stay home until they finish menstruating,” said Atitwa of Boxgirls.
In Kenya’s informal settlements, young girls are constantly at risk of falling prey to unscrupulous individuals.
Most especially, at crucial times such as during their menstrual periods, they may be lured into exchanging sex for sanitary pads.
Boxgirls Kenya on Saturday launched an automated sanitary pad dispenser at Faith Christian School in Baba Dogo, Ruaraka Constituency to help girls access pads at any time.
The girls will only need to insert five shillings into the machine and get two pieces of pads that can last them half a day or an entire day, depending on their cycle.
Leadership and Mentorship head at Boxgirls, Maureen Atitwa said that they did a survey of the performance of girls in the school back in July and one major thing stood out.
“A lot of girls’ performance dropped once they reached puberty in the school, so we did another survey to establish the root cause of this,” she said.
They found out that a majority of the girls missed classes during their periods due to a lack of access to enough sanitary pads to sustain them through their entire cycle.
Although well-wishers sometimes provide schools with free pads, Atitwa said they end up running out after two or three months and the girls become stranded once again.
“Some girls said they use one pad for an entire day because that is the only one they have,” she said.
Atitwa said that one girl confided to them that at break-time, she goes to the toilet so she can bleed directly into the toilet, then she puts the pad she wore in the morning back on.
“Others choose to use old clothes or tissues as pads but they are prone to leaks and that leads to period shaming by their peers so instead, they opt to stay home until they finish menstruating,” she said.
These heart-breaking stories are what drove the organization into creating the booth.
Boxgirls’ Programs Manager, Florence Otieno said that the sanitary pads booth will help curb the period poverty gap that exists among girls from informal settlements.
“With the help of the American Jewish Foundation, we were able to construct a machine that is small enough to be managed by the school and the mechanism behind it is very simple,” she said.
She said that the machine would not only be available to the girls in the school but also to the girls in the community.
“Some parents may find it hard to provide Sh50 for a girl to buy pads but five shillings is easier to get,” said Otieno.
Boxgirls had a sanitary pad fundraising on Sunday to ensure the booth is adequately equipped.
“We hope to take this invention to other schools across informal settlements like Kariobangi, Kibera, Mukuru, and many others. We invite any well-wishers who hope to help us achieve this goal and help end period poverty among our girls,” she concluded.