Why Is Period Poverty In Kenya So Devastating?
For many, menstruation is a slight inconvenience – a trip to the store with some mood swings, cramps, and headaches. Apart from the usual uncomfortable nature of our periods, many of us don’t give it a second thought.
But for many women, particularly in Kenya and marginalized communities, monthly periods are more than a minor inconvenience. For these women and girls, access to proper education, healthcare, and products are scarce. And menstrual fear and stigma are prevalent.
But it doesn’t mean that help isn’t available. Awareness in Kenya of the need for support is growing.
At YourCosyShop, we’re partnering with SCORA in Kenya, an organization focused on meeting the needs of women and girls in Kenya.
Read on to learn what these beautiful women are struggling through, and what we all can do to help.
WHAT IS PERIOD POVERTY?
In Kenya, sanitary pads are unaffordable for 65% of the female population.² Education is minimal. Healthcare is inaccessible.
The lack of accessibility to products, education, and healthcare is called period poverty: “a global issue affecting women and girls who don’t have access to safe, hygienic sanitary products, and/or who are unable to manage their periods with dignity, sometimes due to community stigma.”¹
The desperation experienced through period poverty often leads to threats that lurk in women’s health and wellbeing.
How Does Period Poverty Affect Menstrual Health In Kenya?
The problem of period poverty grows when adolescent girls and young women lack the products they need and are unable to acquire adequate health care.
Without enough access to menstrual products, girls often resort to using bits of cloth and dirty rags. They sometimes prolong their use of tampons and pads. The result is an increase in infections.¹
Furthermore, it’s common for these women to negotiate transactions through sex with partners to get the products they need.²
2 out of 3 menstruating girls receive products from sexual partners.²
Many girls are unable to negotiate safe sex practices. This leads to an increased risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancies.
But period poverty goes further than inadequate access to products and healthcare.
Puberty Education in Kenya
Alarming statistics point to the fact that 1 in 4 Kenyan females do not link menstruation with pregnancy.² This is largely due to the unavailability of support and education in the area.
The reasons for this are many.
For one, there is no instruction on things such as hygiene safety, proper product use, or disposal.
Also, many teachers consider the topic of puberty embarrassing. And because there isn’t a specific curriculum they are required to follow, they often give their own point of view. In some cases, they skip puberty education altogether.
But lack of support in schools goes beyond education and curriculum.
Only 32% of rural schools have a discreet place for girls to change their products.² With no access to privacy, girls often miss days in the classroom during their periods.
In the Sub-Saharan region of Africa, for instance, girls miss as much as 20% of school during the year and may drop out altogether.
With the lack of education and support, many are left with a dim future and only the choice of entering into child marriage.
Beyond the school system, 50% of girls say they can have frank discussions about menstruation. And only 12% are comfortable talking with their mother about it.²
Why is this?
In communities across the country, period stigma leaves many to believe that menstruating women and girls are dirty or polluted. This leads girls to feel fear and shame.¹
Taboos about menstruation restrict girls in ways that include:²
Because of the overwhelming stigma and inadequate access to products and education, the need for help is prevalent. And organizations are stepping up to lead the charge.
SCORA Is An Organization Helping Menstruating Women In Kenya.
In the last five years, there has been growing awareness on the need to improve the health and wellbeing of menstruating women.²
One such organization is SCORA – a Standing Committee on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights including HIV and AIDS. According to their website, SCORA’s vision is to create “a world where every individual is empowered to exercise their sexual and reproductive health rights equally, free from stigma and discrimination.”³
When it formed in 1992, SCORA’s initial focus was on intervening in STIs and HIV issues. Since then, they’ve widened their reach to include things such as:³
- Sexuality Education – by raising awareness on topics of sexual and reproductive health
- Maternal Health and Safe Abortion Access – to educate about newborn and maternal health issues such as family planning, breastfeeding, violence, and ending abortion discrimination
- Positive Sexuality and Gender Identity – by promoting positive body awareness and ending the stigma against the LGBT+ community who are often denied access to healthcare
- Gender-Based Violence – such as mental, social, physical, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), sexual harassment, domestic violence, and human trafficking
- STIs and HIV – focusing on ending the AIDs epidemic
Though they are a small organization, SCORA is quite effective at providing needed services and products to the women and girls who need them the most.
And that’s where YourCosyShop comes in.
YourCosyShop Is Donating Products to SCORA.
We at YourCosyShop are passionate about the health and well-being of all women. We know that it’s hard to find much-needed products that are reusable, free from chemicals, and safe for the environment. (Not to mention leak-free and virtually invisible through clothing.)
Our main goal is to expand our reach and provide our products to all women everywhere. To serve those who desire and need a safe, reusable, dignified alternative.
And that’s why we chose to work with SCORA. By accepting more than just monetary donations, SCORA gave us the peace of mind in knowing our products would go to the women and girls who needed them the most. Products that will ensure they will never run out of the protection they need during their monthly cycle.
By working with SCORA, we are supporting a cause that encompasses the challenges these women go through on a daily basis.
Your Purchase Helps Others Receive Our Products!
Look. We are not meant to be naturally harmful. We shouldn’t require toxic chemicals, compromising positions, fear, or lack.
Being a woman should not mean being “less than.”
Being a woman means being a unique and equal human being. And as such, we as women can – and should – be provided with the things we need most: dignity, safety, good health, and protection. To be comfortable in our skin, confident with our bodies, and celebrated for who we are and what we can do.
We at YourCosyShop are helping to end the stigma. We’re collaborating to create a safe, empowered environment for all girls and women to be educated about the beautiful nature of themselves. We’re arming girls with the products that support them on their life’s journey.
That’s why for every LillyPad purchase, we donate 5% of our profits to help SCORA reach those in Kenya who are marginalized and need our help.
Our commitment to women’s empowerment is why we provide you with the best, research-based products and information. So you can live knowing you are making the most informed decisions for yourself. And now you can make an informed purchase knowing that you, too, are empowering others.
That’s strong. That’s powerful. And that’s absolutely beautiful.