It’s 2021. And yet period poverty is still a massive problem both at home and abroad. It’s time we talk about it more.
Period poverty is when females are unable to afford sanitary products, which can have adverse effects on health and social issues. For most of us, we have no choice about whether or not we get a monthly period. So not being in a position to buy tampons and pads is a massive problem.
Think about it; you’re 14 years old and on your period but have no way to hygienically soak up the blood or wash yourself properly. You’re not going to go to school, right? But it’s not just one day you’re missing, it's 4-5 days every single month. Which equates to almost 2 months throughout the year. Naturally, you start falling behind in your class which has a knock-on psychological impact. Period poverty puts a lot of young girls at an unfair disadvantage. What is often glossed over as a trivial issue can actually have a significant societal impact, as it spirals out of control very easily.
We want to be part of fixing that problem. At Riley we’re committed to helping the fight against period poverty. We want to make female health easier to manage, but not just for those that can afford it. We want to do what we can to help keep young girls educated and it starts with ensuring they don’t miss school because they can’t get access to sanitary products.
In Kenya period poverty is a huge issue. It is estimated that 50-65% of Kenyan girls don’t have access to proper sanitary products. This is even higher in rural Kenya where the issue of menstruation is taboo in what is still a very paternalistic society. The cost of pads is also prohibitive. The average Kenyan family spends most of their family budget, 74% of it, on food leaving little money to spend on other issues; a teenage girl’s menstruation cycle on many occasions will not be seen as a matter of priority for struggling families.
Fiona, one of Riley’s co-founders, witnessed this first-hand in 2019 when she was volunteering in the African country. Fiona spent time working with Development Pamoja, an Irish registered charity working to responsibly develop disadvantaged communities in rural Kenya. Irishman James Hennessy founded the charity 12 years ago and has been based there ever since. He has built a fantastic team of local Kenyans whose mission it is to help communities become self-sufficient in the long-term. You can read more about Development Pamoja and the work they do here.
Riley is working directly with Development Pamoja to fight period poverty in rural Kenya. It was important to us to team up with a transparent and trustworthy organisation, whereby we can track the direct impact our partnership is having. To help keep Kenyan girls in school, our on-the-ground activity is two-fold:
- We are sponsoring a menstruation education programme for school girls to demystify the issue and help them manage their period. Development Pamoja’s resident doctor, Mary, visits local schools each term to host these programmes and answer any questions the girls may have. We’ve started with 10 schools, which equates to 1,000 school girls receiving these talks twice a year.
- We have also committed to supplying sanitary products to these 10 local schools, offering 1,000 young girls access to basic sanitary products, as well as stocking Development Pamoja’s medical clinics with sanitary products.
Dr Mary providing local girls with free sanitary products, sponsored by Riley.
We believe this is just the beginning of our contribution to fight period poverty. The more we manage to grow and expand our small business, the more resources we will have to fight this battle, both at home and abroad.
At Riley, we feel incredibly strongly about this. After all, a period should end a sentence. Not an education.
As a business, we are motivated by the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDG's). Our commitment to help fight period poverty addresses SDG #1, #4 and #5. If you have any questions or would like to know more about please don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or leaving a comment below.