Always has today announced its commitment to donate one million pads through a partnership with Bethel Investment Network as part of its efforts to end period poverty in Kenya. This donation seeks to further curb absenteeism of girls in schools, which is a consequence of insufficient or inadequate sanitary protection.
Launched in 1993, the Always School Programme has reached millions of young girls across Kenya through puberty education. This has gone a long way in addressing period stigma and taboos in the country, creating spaces where young girls can speak freely about the changes happening in their bodies during puberty onset. Over time, the programme has evolved to include wide-scale pad donations under the tag Always Keeping Girls in School (AKGIS) with a mandate to increase access to safe and reliable pads, through donations.
According to Water Aid International, one out of two girls in Kenya drop out of school due to a lack of period products. Kenya’s Ministry of Education has cited this as an average of four school days every month. An over four years of high school, these are 165 learning days if they find themselves without proper sanitary hygiene protection. It is against this backdrop that Always Keeping Girls in School was birthed in Kenya and today, it continues to be a much-needed force for female good in many communities.
The Always Keeping Girls in School programme has developed a strong track record for improving confidence, a sense of hope, and authenticity; this is all validated by an external research report published in The International Journal of Adolescence and Youth.
Today, menstrual hygiene has made its way to the top of the agenda for millions of policymakers. This is a great step towards highlighting the challenges girls face and ensuring we continue to create initiatives that support and advance Menstrual Health Hygiene across the world.
Always Kenya’s renewed commitment to ‘keeping girls in school’ comes at an opportune time with schools all over the country reopening. The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified both health and financial challenges in our country, with many parents are feeling the pinch and struggling to provide essential items to their families. As a result, this is a welcome expansion of the programme which is needed now more than ever.