Uhuru Kenyatta’s ascent into the Kenyan presidency might have been marred by controversy but it seems he might be getting one thing right when it comes to women’s health.
One of the issues we are particularly passionate about here on the Sexuality Blog is sanitary care for women. All too often, the bodies and sexualities of women are either rigidly policed or entirely ignored. Periods and the far reaching consequences of a woman being able to manage an integral part of female life and sexuality fall squarely into the latter with many governments actually punishing women for having periods by instituting taxes and tariffs on necessary sanitary care products. This is especially glaring in developing countries like Nigeria where because of the expensive costs of unhygienic sanitary care products like pads and tampons and liners, women below the poverty line are either forced to use unhygienic alternatives or become sequestered from the larger society during their monthly cycles. Aside from the financial burden this places on the economy, women’s lives are severely limited by this monthly inconvenience.
However across the world, women have successfully advocated for their governments to either subsidize the purchase of sanitary products from the most disadvantaged women (the poor, the physically disadvantaged and the incarcerated), or underwrite the purchase of them altogether. Botswana was the first country to offer free sanitary products to its women but we are yet to see other African countries to truly embrace this new approach to female sexuality and sexual health which is why we are pleasantly surprised that Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta has signed into law as one of his first acts as president, a new law that mandates free access to sanitary care products and ways to dispose said products to girls in public schools.
According to the BBC, the new Act signed into law states that “that every girl registered at school should be given “free, sufficient and quality sanitary towels” as well as “a safe and environmental sound mechanism for disposal”, and has been implemented to encourage more girls from poor homes to attend secondary school and increase the overall percentage of women who gain an education. It is an admirable move from the government and hopefully it wield much needed results.