Around the world, 14 million girls under the age of 18 marry each year. This implies 1,166,666 girls a month, 269,230 girls a week, and 38,461 girls a day, 27 every minute or, around one girl every two seconds.
In societies where girls are looked at as home makers and child bearers, this is even worse. At the onset of menstruation, girls in Africa are often seen as mature and ready to “breed”. They are seen as fertile ground for men who need virgin girls for their sexual escapades. These men lure them with money which they in turn use to purchase sanitary pads.
Many women in Kenya still use traditional ways of containing menstrual flow. They turn to used wool, paper, rolls of grass, cow dung mosses and used cloths when “aunty flow” visits. Up take of sanitary pads is still low in the country with only 35% of the Kenyan women using sanitary pads. This is even after that tax cut in 2004 whose objective was to increase the use of sanitary products. Though this tax cut reduced the cost of the pads by 50%, their current cost is still way too expensive for girls and women living in the slums and rural areas.
According to UNESCO, one in ten African adolescent girls in remote areas miss school during their menses and eventually drops out of school because of menstruation related issues. Locally, a half a million girls miss school every month because they can’t afford sanitary protection.
When a girl drops out of school, due to issues emanating from sanitary towels, the future of the country and the economy suffers. There are high chances that her children will suffer the same fate too hence the continuity in the poverty cycle. Menstrual issues are therefore not just a woman’s problem but a societal one and this is why we have to jointly address it.
Periods Of Dignity Initiative envisions a society where girls will not have to worry about menstrual issues, but other issues that are critical to their future well-being like academics and school work. We hope to achieve this through partnerships with like-minded individuals and raise resources that will enable us buy and distribute the pads to the girls in the slums of Homa Bay County.
Without proper means of maintaining proper menstrual hygiene, these girls are at a higher risk of being the numbers in the statistics above. We don’t want them to be the statistics – we want them to be women who will change their societies for the better.We are in partnership with other sisters to provide them with sanitary pads to help them manage their periods discretely.
With the regular support of our committed sisters Christina Sheley, Wendy Dean Williams Rochelle Indo, Violet Detto-Scott, Rita Davenport, Tamu Davenport, Terri Baskerville, Janet Parrott, Amy Schaffert, Inga Riley, Carol Melhase and brother Bradon Chuchu (Treasurer PODI), Periods Of Dignity initiative has 1496 packs of sanitary pads, an average of 100 packs per month to dispense to each of the 100 girls enrolled in the
These pads have benefited about 112 girls who have each received a pack of pads a month for the last eleven months. That means they are able to go to and stay in school even during their monthly cycle.
We have over 200 requests from equally deserving girls on our waiting list. We are greatly pained when their requests cannot be granted due to financial limitations, but hope is not lost. We know that, in due course, we will be able to get other brothers and sisters willing to contribute to this initiative. At that point we will be able to meet their needs and double or even triple the impact we already have made.
A packet of sanitary pad costs $1.00 – enough for a girl for a whole month. We welcome contributions, and hope you will share this with friends and family and other networks. Please let them know, because you never know where or who will be able to help and make a difference.
Through regular support of our committed sisters Christina Sheley, Wendy Dean Williams, Rochelle Indo, Violet Detto-Scott, Rita Davenport, Tamu Davenport, Terri Baskerville, Janet Parrott, Amy Schaffert, Inga Riley, Carol Melhase and brother Bradon Chuchu (Treasurer), Periods Of Dignity – PODI, has greatly impacted the lives of these precious girls.
The problem is gone for the 100 girls enrolled in the program. They no longer face the myriad of challenges they previously faced. Your donations brought smiles to their faces and gave them hope of becoming contributing people in society and break the vicious poverty cycle
The contributions we receive have enabled us to:
1. Protect the young girls against the sex predators who use the sanitary pads as bait to lure the girls into giving in to their sexual advances and exploitation.
2. Reduced risk of contracting HIV and AIDS. The sexual and reproductive health sessions that we have with the girls have made them aware of the dangers posed by engaging in unprotected sex and they have also learn how to say NO to the sex predators. This has made them less at risk of being infected with HIV and other STIs.
3. Their Dignity, Self-esteem and self-worth has greatly been enhanced and improved. They are no longer an object of ridicule during their menses as the sanitary pads provided have effectively concealed it. The boys can no longer know when “aunty flow” visits.
4. Renewed hopes of completing primary school and transiting to secondary school. This means a bright future ahead for those who will be able to complete secondary and join some college.
5. The girls are no longer at risk of getting impregnated at an early age.
Please take a moment to read the letters submitted by two of these young ladies. They represent the sentiment of all the girls:
“Thank you, Thank Periods of Dignity for the pads.
I know I feel more confident and do not stay home during my periods.
I am thankful to all those involved.” —- Jane
“My family has always struggled at this time of the month; whether to buy sanitary towels or food. They have always prioritized food. This meant I missed school during my menses. PODI is God Sent. I was enrolled in the program and since then I have never missed school, even a single day. I thank Elseba and all the other sisters who have been supporting her.” —- Zilpa
You can be a part of the change in the lives of these maturing young ladies.
Please send your financial contribution via PayPal
to [email protected]
and make a difference!Thank you.
Elseba Adhiambo, PODI
A note from Gail Pinder:
While working on this article I learned a lot! I have been so affected by the needs of these girls. It’s time to step up to the plate and make a difference! I, for one, will be supporting this cause on a regular basis and I hope you will join me!
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