Most people know that
girls have their period once every month. But every once in a while
you’ll tell your boyfriend, husband or partner that you’re menstruating
and he’ll be like, ‘Again?’, as if a period is like a subscription you
can cancel anytime you want a break from your cycle.
Women and girls of menstruating age don’t have that luxury; most of them
bleed once a month like clockwork. And while I wish it was just a
simple matter of bloodletting, it is not. There’s also cramping, nausea
and psychedelic mood swings to deal with.
You’d think that the world would pause for a minute to recognise this
human feat, but no. Life goes on as normal. Women are expected to carry
on as usual. Unfortunately, it is only the ones who can afford to buy
sanitary towels and/or tampons who can hide the stain of menstruation.
Seven out of ten women and girls in Kenya cannot afford sanitary towels. That’s approximately two thirds of the female population. And while the State is now legally obligated to provide free sanitary towels for girls in Government schools, the roll-out has been slow. And girls in private schools are excluded. That is why I still walk into my local supermarket to find women asking for pads for girls in need. This is something I have done gladly, but with a law in place, and a Sh470 million allocation (in the 2017-2018 budget); we must demand that the Government fulfills its obligation. Note, there was no mention of menstrual hygiene and/or sanitary towels in the 2018-2019 budget. Higher taxes Meanwhile, Tanzania went ahead and exempted sanitary towels from value added tax. This came alongside other tax reductions and exemptions designed to protect manufacturers and consumers.
Back at the ranch,
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich was proposing higher taxes on
everything from income, to food, mobile money transfers, imported cars,
fuel and even paper.
The CS stopped just short of a hut tax, which used to be levied by the
colonialists on every African household for the simple pleasure of being
alive. Things are going to become very hard for Kenyans very soon, and
with this Sh2.5 trillion budget, all I can say is teren teren.
But today I’m more concerned with the fate of women and girls. Without a
sanitary way to manage menstruation, almost two thirds of the female
population will continue to lose at least a week of their time every