Just the other day on Monday 28 May, the world celebrated Menstrual Hygiene Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness on different issues surrounding menstruation. In today’s post, I highlight five Kenyan women who have started initiatives around menstruation; women who are champions for menstrual health. I hope they will inspire you, just like they have me. If you know of more women who are doing great things in the community, you can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org with a summary of their initiatives, and contact details. So here are the five women:
Makena is the editor of a local beauty magazine, and is a mother of three girls. She regularly donates sanitary towels to girls in children’s homes, schools as well as women in prisons. She says:
“I have always wanted to give back to the society, and pads seemed close to my heart. I mobilise my friends who help me buy these pads. Some of them send me money for this cause, while others donate pads, which I then distribute to these girls and women in need. A friend introduced me to a place where they make subsidized pads and with only 450 shillings, I am able to buy a year’s supply of pads for one girl. That is an average cost of lunch in Nairobi today.”
Christine Mwaka Mvurya is the First Lady of Kwale County. She has a passion for women and girl empowerment and over the last three years, she has been centrally involved in related activities through her organization –Fanikisha Foundation.
Ms. Mvurya is a Menstrual Hygiene Management champion and uses her platforms of influence to address different issues surrounding menstruation, such as dispelling of myths and taboos about periods, addressing stigma and isolation of women during their menses, advocating for every girl’s access to sanitary towels –especially school-going girls who may miss school during their periods due to lack of pads, or toilets where they can comfortably change their pads. Ms. Mvurya is passionate about seeing to it that all girls and women are able to be confident and comfortable during their periods. She is a wife and mother of four boys.
Lucy Wanjiku Njenga
Lucy Wanjiku Njenga is the founder of Positive Young Women’s Voices (PYWV), an organization that promotes access to healthcare for girls and young women –especially those in Dandora. It advocates for their economic empowerment and facilitates mentorship opportunities for them. One of the activities of her organization is the sanitary pads drive titled: Adopt a Girl’s Month Initiative, where with a donation of Sh300, you adopt a girl’s month. Through this, a girl will receive 2 packets of sanitary pads, a pen and a book. She says:
“We have taken up one private school in our community called Mt. Zion High School, where they have a total of 55 girls in the school. Our girls will no longer miss school becase we are there for them. These girls don’t have to use all manner of things to go through their periods, or get into risky behaviour just to afford pads. It’s her right to enjoy life, to enjoy her womanhood.”
Lucy is a mother of a beautiful two year-old daughter.
Elsie Wandera started her periods when she was 13 years old. But her menses came with indescribable pain. She says of her experience: “Every month, my periods would be accompanied by severe abdominal pain that would see me leave class many times to go lay down in the school’s sanatorium. I would feel as though the insides of my abdomen were being knotted, tugged at and pulled apart in all directions. It was as though my abdomen was being stabbed by a thousand knives.” Read More.
Today, at 38 years, Elsie she still continues to battle with endometriosis. Endometriosis is basically extremely painful and debilitating periods. To raise awareness about the condition, she founded the Endometriosis Foundation of Kenya (EFK), an avenue she uses to advocate for improved treatment options for women who suffer from endometriosis, as well as influence government policies on the same. EFK also has a support group that offers emotional and psychological support to women with endometriosis. It helps them know that they are not alone. Elsie can be reached on email@example.com
In 2016, Esther launched Yellow Endo Flower to help demystify period-shaming, to teach girls about periods and menstrual health, and to create awareness about endometriosis. Esther is an endometriosis warrior. Last year, she published a book on menstrual health called Bloom, through which she teaches girls and women about how a period should look and feel, explore sanitary options and encourage girls and women to employ healthy practices about menstruation.
The book also teaches them about the importance of keeping a period diary. Esther is also a menstrual health educator, who spends her time educating school girls about menstruation. She also conducts menstrual health trainings in schools, churches and other organized groups. Esther is a mother of two girls. You can reach her through email: firstname.lastname@example.org
So those are the five women that I have featured today. Are you a menstrual health champion or do you know of any other woman who is? Feel free to email me at email@example.com with more information.
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