By Kiplat Kapusia
Lack of sanitary towels is causing absenteeism among girls in West Pokot, who most likely will eventually drop out altogether to wait for marriage suitors.
It is hard for them to get sanitary towels, and immediately they reach puberty and their monthly periods begin, they dessert school for weeks or give up summarily.
World Vision Girl Child Protection Officer in the county Teresa Cheptoo said an average of ten girls fail to attend classes for four days in a month. Cumulatively, they miss 36 days of school in the nine months of an academic year due to lack of sanitary towels. Majority of them come from poor families.
Ms Cheptoo challenged the national and county governments as well as non-governmental organizations to help school girls in pastoralist areas get sanitary towels.
Speaking last week at the Alale area during a girls sensitization meeting , Ms Cheptoo said sanitary towels are a necessity especially for girls learning in remote areas which have been marginalized for a long time.
“Many girls sit at home because they lack sanitary towels .We as leaders must intervene to make sure that we address this problem,” said Ms Cheptoo, adding that as learners need books and pens, girls equally need sanitary towels.
Ms Cheptoo said that many parents in the area do not appreciate the importance of the items, while others lack money to buy them for their children.
Pokot Girl Child Network Coordinator Teresa Lokichu said there is need for stakeholders to join hands in promoting girl child education in the area.
“We should join hands in the fight against retrogressive culture that has no value in modern society,” said Mrs. Lokichu.
She observed that many girls in the area have dropped out of school following the retrogressive practices.
“We want everybody to promote girl child education as girls have been denied the chance to participate in development,” said Mrs Lokichu.
She pointed out that girls in the area should be given an opportunity to learn to promote the two thirds gender rule.
“Girls and women in general should be supported to take up leadership positions,” she said.
She called on leaders to help in advocating for the anti-FGM law that will lead to the apprehension of perpetrators.
“The law is clear and those still perpetrating the vice should be sent to jail,” she said.
Mrs Lokichu urged the West Pokot County Government to set aside funds for buying sanitary towels and distribute them to girls in schools.
She said that many schools in the county are mixed, creating discomfort and embarrassment for girls in the presence of boys.
“In many areas you can travel over 50 kilometres without coming across a shop that sells sanitary towels. This discourages girls from attending school,” said Mrs Lokichu.