Initially, the awareness of women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) was more focused on the distribution of sanitary towels to young women and girls from less disadvantaged backgrounds. This informed many gaps in knowledge and information in breaking the barriers, myths, and taboos around menstrual hygiene.
From the situational analysis, The Ministry of Health developed the Kenya Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) Policy 2019-2030 that seeks to create awareness of the rights-based approach through the devolution of sanitation services across the 47 counties. The approach is aimed at achieving the Kenya Vision 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In a virtual stakeholders’ forum dubbed Policy and Legal framework in the sexual and reproductive health and rights, Menstrual Health and Hygiene Champion Neville Okwaro said menstruation limits women and girls’ on their rights to access water, education, sanitation, and a good working environment.
“Myths, taboos, and stigma are some of the biggest barriers to a safe and hygienic environment for women and girls and proper disposal of menstrual waste. The implementation of the MHM Policy will break these barriers through simplified information tools that incorporate all; women, girls, men, and boys in the sensitization on menstruation matters,” said Okwaro.
In her opinion, FIDA-Kenya Deputy Executive Director Wanjiru Kamanda expressed her concerns over rising cases in Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) stating that most SGBV survivors do not seek immediate help for fear of stigmatization or lack of information on how to go about seeking justice.
“At FIDA-Kenya, we offer pro bono legal aid especially to survivors from less disadvantaged backgrounds. Before then, the survivors’ first step is to seek immediate medical care after which they report to the nearest police station and acquire an Occurrence Book (OB) number. The survivors will then call FIDA-Kenya’s toll-free number 0800 720501. This is one step to access to justice,” Kamanda advised.
Ms. Kamanda added that the chiefs and police are State’s representatives to ensure that children are protected from sexual abuse. The State has a duty to ensure the enactment of the Reproductive Health Bill that provides information on reproductive health for adolescents. This will counter the rising cases of teenage pregnancies across the country especially during COVID- 19