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Building back school girls' confidence with sanitary towels

27 May 2022

Building back school girls' confidence with sanitary towels

Victoria Njoki, second from right, with some of the girls who received sanitary towels.

“Every time my periods started, I would get so worried because my sick mother didn’t have money to buy me sanitary towels. She would give me rags which I used as pads and this was uncomfortable as I always feared that my dress might get soiled. For that reason, I would not leave my desk during breaks and would have a sweater tied around my waist when I needed to go out,” says 14 year-old Victoria Njoki from Kigio Primary School in Thika, Kenya.

Thanks to funding from the Waitrose & Partners Foundation, Victoria and 30 other teenage girls in her school are not embarrassed to get their periods any more since Farm Africa distributed ten boxes of sanitary towels to the school, which is affiliated to Simbi Roses, one of Waitrose’s supplier farms in Kenya. With most students coming from poor backgrounds where their parents struggle to provide food, buying sanitary towels is not a priority.

The female students at Kigio Primary School now study uninterrupted and absenteeism has reduced by 100%. Previously, three to four girls would skip school every week when their periods began, but now all they have to do is approach their teachers for pads.

“The girls lacked confidence and their performance in class was affected. Now, they are bolder, more hygienic and we have seen a significant improvement in their performance,” noted Agnes Murigi, the guidance and counselling teacher at Kigio Primary School.

Victoria notes that she used to become confused when her periods began during her exam period and this would affect her performance. Nowadays she never worries, even during exams, because she knows there are pads available at her school. What’s more, her grades have improved from 280 out of 500 marks to over 300 marks.

“My mother is no longer stressed because I don’t use pieces of clothing anymore during my period and my friends and I play freely now. Thank you so much Waitrose for the many things you have done for us,” Victoria concluded with a smile of gratitude.