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In many parts of the world, Indigenous and ethnic minority women and girls are disproportionately affected by adverse reproductive and sexual health outcomes. They commonly live in rural, poor, marginalized areas with limited access to sexual and reproductive health information and services. They are particularly vulnerable to health challenges as manifested in the higher rates of sexual violence, early pregnancy, and the risk of contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

As an important factor of promoting the reproductive health of women and girls, menstruation management has also been linked to the realization of women and girls’ human rights.  A natural bodily function like menstruation can therefore pose an obstacle to education and employment for women and girls around the world. Worldwide statistics show that:- 

  • Girls miss up to six weeks of school per year due to menstruation
  • Women lose key hours of work per month
  • Common sanitary pad substitutes are unhygienic and often result in chronic untreated infections increasing susceptibility to STDs/ HIV.

“Menstruation is the most important factor affecting school drop-out among girl [and is a key barrier] to achieving Millennium Development Goals” - UNDP & UNICEF, 2007. For women and girls’ therefore, access to clean sanitation facilities and menstrual supplies is fundamental to living a life of dignity, and to realizing human rights, such as the rights to education, work, and health. Lack of safe and clean sanitation facilities at schools can lead to low attendance and high dropout rates for girls. Girls who can’t afford sanitary towels or change them privately miss school during their periods, a situation experienced by many girls in Kenya.

To address these issues, OPDP has partnered with Zana Foundation to promote the health and well being of young girls from the indigenous Ogiek Community. Through the generous support of Zana Foundation, OPDP has  rolled out an in-school programme to empower girls with information to make sound decisions about their bodies and help them address the many challenges they face during adolescent period that prevent them from completing school and achieving their dreams.

The programme is so far targeting 6 schools in Njoro and Molo districts, and benefiting 500 girls. Through capacity building and mentoring, the programme focuses on:-

  • Providing sexual and reproductive health education.
  • Creating safe spaces in schools where young girls openly share their experiences and challenges; develop awareness of their human rights and how to claim these rights.
  • Distributing sanitary towels and underwear, and creating awareness on menstrual hygiene management.

This programme will address one of the biggest causes of early school drop-out among girls from the Ogiek community, and empower them to continue with their education.
OPDP requires your general support to ensure the programme reaches out to more girls, and more lives are transformed. You too can ‘Keep Ogiek girls in School’, donate to support this programme.

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