Chandaria Industries has started an annual campaign to educate young girls on menstrual hygiene health, as studies show that girls receive inadequate education on puberty and on menstrual health management, and lack the necessary information channels for ongoing support, mentorship, and knowledge.
The campaign to be held yearly on 28th May as the world celebrates the World Hygiene Menstruation day, will see the company invite girl schools – selected based on the school’s needs – in partnership with non-governmental organizations, who will mentor the girls in menstrual hygiene and reproductive health.
“There are significant barriers to high quality menstrual hygiene management across Kenya and remain a particular challenge for low income women and girls with only 50 per cent of girls able to openly discuss menstruation at home,” according to a 2016 research on Menstrual Health in Kenya.
The study further reveals that the lack of alignment between various stakeholders has hindered the progress on menstrual health. However, immediate opportunities exists to better support adolescent girls’ MHM in Kenya through improved access to timely menstruation and puberty education, and improved product access .
This year, Chandaria Industries in partnership with NGO She Needs a Chance hosted 50 girls from Reuben Center Girls Primary and KYDF Secondary schools from the Mukuru Slums in Nairobi for a two hour event on menstrual hygiene, ending the session with a gift bag of sanitary towels and Chandaria hygiene products.
“We are inspired by the fact that we can play a role to make sure young girls and women are educated and empowered so they don’t have to miss a single day at school or at work and that’s why we’ve set apart a day to be part of the Menstrual Health Day, which is a global platform that brings together non-profits, government agencies, the private sector, the media and individuals to promote Menstrual Hygiene Management,” said Darshan Chandaria, Chandaria Group CEO.
In addition to menstrual hygiene education, which now sees the company organizing yearly visits to over 100 schools throughout the country, Chandaria Industries has set the pace in providing affordable sanitary towels to consumers with their sanitary towels selling in the range of Sh40 to Sh78.
“The reason sanitary pads were introduced to our product portfolio was due to the fact that we were receiving a lot of requests for donations due to the reach and presence we have in the region. The demand for sanitary pads was so high that we decided to introduce this product line with no actual intention of making any profit from it,” said Mr Chandaria.
“We have introduced different types of sanitary napkins that are highly targeted to specific types of consumers and hence providing the best possible solution at an affordable price without compromising on the quality,” said Mr Chandaria.
In a bid to further improve access to sanitary napkins for Kenya’s young women, the government also lowered the custom duty on super absorbent polymer, a key raw material for sanitary napkins, from 7.5 per cent to 5 per cent, in its 2016 budget, as well as cutting the custom duty on another key raw material from 5 per cent to 2.5 per cent.
“In the absence of parental and school support, girls cope, sometimes alone, with menarche in practical and sometimes hazardous ways. Emotional and physical support mechanisms need to be included within a package of measures to enable adolescent girls to reach their potential,” found a 2013 study on Schoolgirl’s Attitudes and Experiences with Menstruation in Rural Western Kenya.
“High costs and distribution challenges still limit the accessibility of disposable pads to the majority of low income girls and women, especially in rural areas. We’ve witnessed an increase in low cost sanitary pad enterprises, but their reach is still limited. Through engagements with girl’s schools on menstrual hygiene, we hope to improve on the accessibility of the sanitary towels for the women and girls around us and in the process transform lives,” concluded Mr Chandaria.