Why girls would rather miss school than ask for pads

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Menstruation just like sex is seen as a taboo topic. It was reported in Embu county, school girls missed wearing a sanitary pad because they were afraid to ask from their parents.

At the same time, their mothers were also afraid of asking them.

As the world marks Menstrual Hygiene day, it is important to note that there still room for parent to child education about menstrual health.

Most girls start their periods with little knowledge on the subject.

Maria started her periods at a tender age of 12 years. When she first spotted the blood stains on her clothes, she did not know where it came from. Her older sister noticed her stained skirt and informed her of her new adolescent stage. Maria however did not receive this pleasantly and she cried.

“I was so scared to approach my mum to tell her that I needed a pad because we had never had such a conversation, its my older sister who asked on my behalf,” Maria recalls.

The role of parents in a child’s life education plays a critical role. Most parents have left the duty of talking to their children on reproductive matters to their teachers.

Survey reports from rural Kenya show that girls would rather miss classes than ask for the panties and pads from parents.

Unicef shows that as many as 1 in 10 girls miss classes during menstruation.

According to Unesco worldwide, 131 million girls are out of school — and 100 million of those are girls of high school age. And while there are many reasons for this, periods play a major role. 

In some cases, girls simply don’t have access to sanitary products; in others, they face discrimination and stigma during their periods; in others still, they don’t have educational resources to inform them about safe, sanitary hygiene practices.  

The Kenyan government plus NGO’s have played a key role in implementing programs for helping young girls get access to free sanitary products and practice hygiene during menstruation.

Parents are still, however, the first educators of a child. Research has shown that parental engagement (of various kinds) has a positive impact on many indicators of student achievement, including:

  • Higher grades and test scores
  • Enrolment in higher level programs and advanced classes
  • Lower drop-out rates
  • Higher graduation rates
  • A greater likelihood of commencing tertiary education. 

     Beyond educational achievement, parental engagement is associated with various indicators of student development. These include:

  • Better social skills
  • Improved behavior
  • Better adaptation to school

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