By Juliah Atieno
Menstrual Hygiene Management is still in it’s baby steps to making the future great for girls in Mukuru. Menstruation is a natural process and there is need to advocate more to ending the social taboos associated with menstruation and to demystify the myths and misconceptions surrounding it.
NivalishePad Initiative is a youth led Community Based Organization in Mukuru Kwa Njenga advocating for sexual reproductive health and rights, mental health and research and development for adolescents and young people. It began with pad drive donations and diversified more into menstrual hygiene management. After identifying several gaps that hinder adolescents & young people, they decided to intervene through its three key pillars namely Sexual Reproductive Health & Rights (SRHR), Mental Health Awareness and Research (MHAR) & Policy Advocacy.
It provides sanitary towels to the girls as well as educating them all (boys and girls) on matters menstruation. They also have safe space session discussion on SRHR, Mental Health and addressing the role of the boychild in the young girls and women’s menstrual health. By driving such conversations to people on menstrual hygiene here in Mukuru and also by ensuring they help girls maintain their hygiene, they help change people’s attitude and perceptions regarding menstruation. In as much as society makes menstruation a woman’s issue, it is high time we make it a community challenge and start addressing it as soon as possible because having everybody on board will make girls feel appreciated and loved.
The Nivalishe Pad Initiative demonstrates to these girls how to effectively use and dispose off a sanitary towel. During these lessons, boys and men are also involved and taught how to use a sanitary towel with the help of Ruby Cups popularly known as menstrual cups, in order to prevent stigmatization.
Despite efforts by this organisation to help girls and young women from this informal settlement, dealing with such a key population of young people can be stressful at times and managing to keep them in one place tends to be risky especially during this Covid 19 era when health protocols are put in place against crowding.