28 January 2010
New study shows sanitary protection for girls in developing countries may provide a route to raising their educational standards
KENYA - SCHOOLGIRLS SANITARY KITS MAY CUT SCHOOL ABSENTEEISM
February 15, 2010
Tackling a problem that is widespread but rarely discussed, a new American-backed charity in Kenya has begun making and giving away kits containing washable sanitary pads, underwear and soap.
Many schoolgirls from poor families stay home up to five days each month when they have their period, according to a recent study in rural Ghana by Oxford University scientists. Disposable sanitary pads like those used in wealthy countries cut absenteeism, but poor families often cannot afford them; a Kenyan girl interviewed by the Voice of America said a box of pads costs about the same as a bag of corn flour, and her parents had to choose the latter.
Substitutes like cloth, mattress padding or newspaper may leak or raise the risk of infection. Not only are the girls embarrassed, but as soon as it is clear they are ovulating, pressure for sex from men — often including their male teachers — steadily increases, the study found.
Huru International, in partnership with the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, Sunflag Steel, Warner Brothers and other backers, developed large but soft terry-cloth pads that can be washed and reused. They are sewn and packaged at a Nairobi community center supported by AmericaShare, the charity arm of Micato Safaris, a New York travel company. The kits also contain information about safe sex and avoiding AIDS. AmericaShare hopes other African women will use microfinance loans to buy the machines needed to make the pads and sell them.
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