Katiba Institute, in partnership with the Social Justice Center Working Group, distributed dignity packs comprising sanitary pads, soap, and tissue paper to girls and women in Nairobi, Rift Valley, Western, and Coast regions. This was part of interventions in response to Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) under the project, “Enhancing Prevention and Response to Gender Based Violence Exacerbated by the COVID-19 Pandemic” that is supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Nairobi.
The activity was flagged off on 28 May 2023, a date set to commemorate menstrual hygiene. Menstrual Hygiene Da is marked on 28 May every year to highlight the importance of menstrual care and raise awareness about the issues faced by those who don’t have access to sanitary products. Gender inequality, cultural taboos, poverty, and lack of essential services like sanitary towels have been cited as challenges surrounding menstrual health and hygiene. This year’s theme was making menstruation a normal fact of life by 2030.
The distribution of sanitary items addresses the need of ensuring safe management of menstrual hygiene and highlights the importance of sustainable support. Girls in schools often face difficulties during their periods, affecting their education. Sustained support means that girls can confidently attend school during their menstrual cycles without interference.
One of the beneficiaries from Kanduyi, Bungoma County, expressed immense gratitude to the distribution team, outlining the significance of the was provided. She noted that the items served her needs and relieved her from the constant worry and uncertainty during her periods, at least for the period. In Dandora, Nairobi County, a beneficiary highlighted the challenges girls who cannot afford essential sanitary items face, including being taken advantage of by men on the promise of some little cash or other favours. This observation underscores the vulnerability of girls and the need for comprehensive support beyond providing menstrual hygiene products. It highlights the importance of creating a safe and supportive environment for girls to access proper menstrual hygiene resources without resorting to potential risks.
Patriciah Joseph, KI’ s Programme Manager, noted that providing this kind of support is one of the measures to prevent gender-based violence against vulnerable women and girls in the community. She echoed community concerns that lack of access to sanitary products exposes girlscially girls to exploitation and abusers who take advantage of their inability to afford them. Patriciah acknowledged that while this initiative was critical, more concerted efforts are needed to ensure sustainable support and access to menstrual products a reality for all. She observed that the government is yet to fully provide ‘free, sufficient and quality sanitary towels to girls in public basic education institutions who have reached puberty’ as required by the Basic Education Act. The distribution forums also provided an opportunity to create awareness on menstrual hygiene, emphasizing on reducing shame around menstruation, in line with the year’s theme.
About the project
This initiative was part of interventions in response to Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) under the project, “Enhancing Prevention and Response to Gender Based Violence Exacerbated by the COVID-19 Pandemic” that is supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy. The project, which commenced in 2020/21, sought to to decrease levels of gender-based violence amongst women, girls, youths, and children in various informal settlements across Kenya. It was implemented in partnership with the Social Justice Centres’ Working Group, covering 42 Social Justice Centres (SJCs) across the country. Additionally, the project has provided direct support to Social Justice Centres with office equipment, capacity building for on financial management, capacity building for communities on GBV response, access to information and self-representation as well as support to survivors of SGBV and their families.