Today we delve into a topic that was and is still considered a big taboo in most societies and religions, MENSTRUATION.
What is menstruation? It is the monthly discharge of blood and the shedding of the lining of a woman’s uterus through the vagina if a pregnancy did not occur. Just like farting, sweating, pooping or peeing, it’s a natural and a very healthy process that takes place in a woman’s body hence naturally helping to cleanse and flash out toxins. Menstruation or period as it is popularly known is a recurring process that starts from a woman’s early teen years until menopause. Despite it being a natural process and something, we totally have no control over, it’s an experience which carries negative connotations.
A menstruating woman is perceived as ‘unclean’ disgusting and generally treated as an outcast in the 2 or 7 days she’s on her periods. Growing up, a girl learns that a woman’s greatest shame, is her periods. Because of this internalized resentment, menstruation even in the contemporary society remains a largely untackled topic. It’s a topic discussed in whispers and hushed tones. It is due to this stigma that society constantly continues to sweep under the carpet the numerous challenges menstruating women all over the world face. Unaffordability of sanitary towels being the major one.
It has been estimated that 2/3 of women in Kenya cannot afford sanitary towels monthly. Over 850,000 school going girls both in rural and urban informal settlements such as Mukuru kwa Njenga, Kibera just to mention but a few, miss school an average of five days each month.
While the cheapest packet of sanitary towels costs around 50 shillings, this price of such a basic commodity is still way beyond the reach of a girl residing in Kibera slums. It’s still way beyond the reach of that girl in Mukuru kwa Njenga slums whose parents are struggling to feed her and her eight siblings every night. It’s beyond the reach of that girl whose only idea of breakfast is the sugarless black tea that she takes every morning before rushing to school.
Because of this high pricing, these girls from the slums go for the cheapest but very unhygienic options; the use of old mattresses, old clothes and rags, newspapers. Anything that could absorb the menstruation blood. This in turn makes them not only very uncomfortable and unable to attend school due to fear of leakage but also susceptible to infections.
Additionally, slum girls as young as 15 years old reportedly engage in transactional sex. Sex in exchange for a packet of pads. This in turn leads to early pregnancies, STIs and subsequently leads to their dropping out of schools.
Sad as it is, this is the harsh reality. This is the truth that every other slum girl in Kenya and all over the world must face.
You can however make a difference today. You can make a girl smile. You can keep a girl in school. By donating…
Your generosity and kindness will go a long way in restoring a girl’s hope. Your 10 shillings will make the much-needed difference.
“Giving is not just about donating its about making a difference” -Kathy Calvin
JOIN YOUTH FOR CHANGE IN MAKING A DIFFERENCE, SEND YOUR DONATION TO TILL NUMBER 800682
By Millicent Maina aka Mylo