By: Smita Gaith, Women Deliver
Last month, the Safaricom Foundation, a charity funded by telecom provider Safaricom Limited and Vodafone Group Foundation, announced it would be supporting the Huru Re-usable Sanitary Pad Project. The project is run by Huru International, a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Kenya.
Years of research have repeatedly demonstrated that the unavailability of sanitary pads plays a major role globally in young girls’ dropout rates and missed days of school. According to Huru’s website, many girls miss 3 to 4 days of school every month due to their menstrual period, and according to UNICEF, 1 in 10 girls in Africa do not attend school while menstruating. This project supports initiatives that are already in place by the Government of Kenya, which has already pledged money towards providing free sanitary pads.
“Huru,” is the Swahili word for “freedom,” and Huru International’s mission is to empower young girls living in poverty to become self-sufficient. They do this by providing free female hygienic products, including sanitary pads, as well as information on HIV/AIDS prevention. The kits have played a role in keeping girls in school and educating them on HIV/AIDS prevention. The Safaricom Foundation is playing their part by providing funding in the amount of 1.5 million Kenyan Shillings (about $18000 US).
Safaricom had previously distributed the sanitary pads and educational materials to young female students in primary schools in Nairobi and Ngong. Last month, on the day of the announcement, 660 girls from three different districts were presented with the sanitary kits under the Huru Project.
Safaricom Foundation Trustee Janice Mwendameru explained why the project and the materials are so important, stating that in addition to missing many days of school, some girls further endanger themselves by engaging in unsafe sexual behaviors in order to be able to afford sanitary pads. The reusable pads provided in the Huru kits are expected to play a role in mitigating these behaviors.
For more information, visit Huru International’s website.
Flickr photograph via The Advocacy Project