Menstrual Health Management (MHM) is often overlooked due to inaccurate information on menstruation and the myths and taboos surrounding the phenomenon. There is also minimal input on tackling period poverty in national development strategies and more so in pandemic response. Menstrual Health impacts directly on other issues such as access to education, food security, economic opportunities and reproductive health.
A study made by MH Day in 2016 found that 65% of women and girls in Kenya cannot afford sanitary pads. This pandemic has worsened inaccessibility to water, sanitation and hygienic menstrual products. However, in the last 5 years, there has been increased momentum around improving women and girls’ menstrual health. Various sectors- the Kenyan government, international donors, local NGOs, and social enterprises — are making various efforts to improve MHM. The Government through the Ministry of Health enacted the Menstrual Hygiene Management Policy 2020. The Ministry of Education has also been implementing the National Sanitary Towel Programme which has been in place since 2010.
Michael Oginga an awardee of the MbeleNaBiz business plan competition and the founder of Femicorner Industry, saw a gap in this area and moved to manufacture an affordable sanitary pad option that enables girls and women to stay in school and at work. The Company which is also registered as an association under the registrar of MSEs, launched their product; low-cost, reusable sanitary pad product that has a lifespan of 2-3 years. The pads are least expensive than the disposable napkins available on the market, making them more accessible for women and girls living below the poverty line.
These pads are locally manufactured at MSEA’s Uriri Constituency Industrial Development Centre (CIDC) in Migori, a common user facility for MSEs. The initiative has provided employment for vulnerable women in an area.
The MbeleNaBiz Business Plan Competition (“MbeleNaBiz”) is an initiative of the Government of Kenya, under the Kenya Youth Employment and Opportunities Project (KYEOP). The initiative aims to expand new and existing youth-led enterprises by providing them with business grants of either Ksh 900,000 or Ksh. 3,600,000M. A total of 750 winners were unveiled by H.E the President in February this year and have already received tranche 1 of the grants.
MbeleNaBiz awards came at an opportune time when the Kenyan economy has been battered due to the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic characterized by massive job losses and collapsed businesses and the awards therefore, constitute the COVID – 19 recovery plan targeting the youth. Put into good use, these funds have the ability to revive the Kenyan economy, catalyze the recovery process while at the same time giving hope to the youth.