The aim of HSH Girls’ Class is to visit schools in rural regions and teach students about sexual health, menstruation, personal hygiene, puberty and the biology behind pregnancy. Depending on the region, topics regarding abuse and genital mutilation are also discussed.
The taboo-nature of menstruation is still a big issue
In Kenya menstruation is still a large taboo. The parents do not tell their children about pubertal changes or menstruation, so all knowledge is based on rumours. Therefore, rootless horror stories and beliefs are spread, and science-based knowledge does not reach the children.
In our working region a lot of girls stay home every month due to menstruation. This can mean that they miss a week of school every month, only because sanitary towels are too expensive. During their menstruation, girls use old clothes or even palm tree leaves in the place of sanitary towels.
Due to the taboo-nature, girls are too afraid to speak openly about the subject. Therefore, they may not always know what is normal, or the reasons for strange changes in their body. The girls’ classes give the girls an opportunity to ask and receive answers for questions they have been pondering.
Reusable sanitary towels for girls
We provide the girls taking part in the class an extensive menstruation kit, which includes seven reusable sanitary towels from Finland, a pair of underwear, a piece of soap and an instruction booklet for the use of the sanitary towel. We also include a sealed bag, where the girls can keep their used sanitary towels before washing them.
Even one menstruation kit can enable education. With the kit, the girl can go to school for years during her menstruation. This can mean even hundreds of school days more.
Cases of abuse are still common
For us, even one case of abuse is too much. Every girl should have the opportunity to grow in a safe and caring environment. We encourage the girls to appreciate their own body, to dare to be brave and to say NO, when needed.
During the lessons we also advise the girls on how to proceed if the crime has already occurred.
The first girls’ class was organized in Mwamivini Primary school in January 2017. It was completed in cooperation with Vuokkoset. At the end, each girl received a package of Vuokkoset biodegradable sanitary towels.