Uncertainty Over Uhuru's Flagship Project After Girl's Suicide

  • President Kenyatta deep in thought at a past event. Miscommunication and lack of follow-up have invaded his program that would have ensured schoolgirls got free sanitary pads, leaving many vulnerable. Citizen Digital
  • There was blame-shifting between Education ministry officials and Women legislators barely 2 weeks ago after a 14-year-old girl committed suicide after being shamed by a teacher for her periods.

    This was despite President Uhuru Kenyatta's highly-praised 2017 directive that was supposed to end the agony pubescent girls from poor backgrounds have to undergo every month to extent of skipping several schooldays. 

    In June 2017, Kenyatta signed the Basic Education Amendment Bill into law, which among other requirements, called for the state to provide free sanitary pads to all schoolgirls from needy backgrounds.

    President Uhuru Kenyatta assenting to the Basic Education Act in 2017.
    President Uhuru Kenyatta assenting to the Basic Education Amendment Act in 2017. The Act, among other things, provided for the provision of free sanitary pads to schoolgirls from needy backgrounds.

    The picture on the ground, however, is different.

    The Star reported on Thursday, September 19, that in Kwale County, more than 54,000 schoolgirls would go without pads if the government fails to supply them this year.

    The Kwale County National Government Affirmative Action Fund (NGAAF) representative, Victor Nyanje, is reported to have told the paper that they only have 460 packages of pads to be distributed at the schools' request, pointing to a dire situation.

    “The majority of Kwale's population is living in poverty. In places like Kinango, some parents can't afford even Ksh60 to buy sanitary towels for their children. The little they get is hand to mouth," Nyanje claimed.

    Nyanje is reported to have told the publication that no new stock had arrived as they were still waiting for communication from the Ministry of Public Service, Youth, and Gender.

    "If the program does not continue, performance will drop since during menstruation many girls will be forced to stay at home. Meaning relevant authorities should sort out whatever is making this program not a success," Nyanje was quoted.

    The sentiments were echoed by Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) instructor Amina Faki, who stated that they were trying to intervene while they waited for the state to sort its house.

    Pads.
    Schoolgirls posing for a picture with free pads courtesy of President Kenyatta's directive in 2017. Stakeholders have called for urgent action from the government claiming that the initiative is in jeopardy due to the uncertainty surrounding the distribution of the pads.

    Faki admitted that despite the efforts, her organization was overwhelmed as they can only supply the much-needed pads to only 150 girls in selected schools.