Kenyan government will begin offering free sanitary pads to schoolgirls who have reached puberty to avoid having them miss classes and putting them at par with their male counterparts.
The new law-The Basic Education Amendment Act is targeting the reduction of absenteeism by schoolgirls during their menstrual cycle and is placing the responsibility of providing free, sufficient and quality sanitary towels on the Kenyan government.
The bill which was signed into law on Wednesday by President Uhuru Kenyatta also compels the government to ensure that there is a safe and environmentally sound mechanism to dispose of the sanitary towels.
“The Basic Education Amendment Act amends Basic Education Act, placing the responsibility of providing free, sufficient and quality sanitary towels to every girl child registered and enrolled in a public basic education institution and has reached puberty, on the government,” it states.
According to a report by Unesco produced in 2016, about 10 percent of schoolgirls miss classes during their menstrual cycle.
In Kenya, it is estimated that the girl child is reported absent from school for about four days a month. According to the Ministry of Education, this causes the girl to miss thirty six to fourty days of learning time in an academic year.
If the child keeps that trend for her entire high school education, she will have missed 156 days from school which rounds up to almost 24 weeks out of 144 weeks of learning.
Late last year, the government waived duty on raw materials used to produce sanitary pads saving manufacturers the 16 per cent value added tax (VAT) which was being levied hence boosting production.