Project #221 Sanitary Pad Project for Girls in Kenya

Our Partnership with Common Ground for Africa (CGA)

Only a small fraction of girls and women in Kenya use sanitary products during menstruation. Most make do with newspapers, leaves, pieces of cloth, cow dung, and other materials, which cause chafing, urinary tract infections, reproductive tract infections, and other reproductive health problems, including fatal toxic shock syndrome and infertility. Lack of sanitary products also causes girls to stay home from school and women to miss work. Nextbillion (2013) estimates that lack of access to sanitary products causes low-income women to lose an average of five years of lifetime wages. Inadequate menstrual hygiene negatively impacts self-esteem and participation in education, employment, and, ultimately, society. The need and market for feminine hygiene products are huge. The challenge is to make products affordable and train women and girls on how to use them.

One Day’s Wages partnered with Common Ground for Africa (CGA) to implement the Nalena Pads sanitary pad project at Lenana Girls High School in Kitale, Kenya. The project constructed one sanitary pad factory at the high school, provide machinery, materials, and resources for production and employed 8 women, and trained 100 students on the production and business development of sanitary menstrual pads. Lenana Girls High school manufactures, distributes, and sells affordable ‘Nalena’ menstrual pads, helping more women and girls get access to safe and effective sanitary pads. Lenana Girls High school has developed a process that transforms sugar cane waste, which is problematic to farmers and sugarcane processing companies, into an absorbent core for sanitary pads without the need for any chemicals or super absorbent polymers. This readily available agro-waste allows Nalena pads to be priced lower than other multinational brands, enabling girls and women to access affordable, eco-friendly pads. The project simultaneously solves the problems of sugar millers’ waste disposal and menstrual hygiene product availability by turning waste into useful products. The pads are designed and produced by girls at the high school and women from nearby villages, who assist students when they are in class. Women and girls who participate in the project will learn many practical business skills including product design, raw material collection and processing, production, branding, and marketing. 


Our Collective Impact

Sanitary Pad Constructed

Girl Students Making Sanitary Pads

Girls Receiving Free Pads

By Rachel Karuga

In Kenya, girls like me do suffer a lot during our menstrual circle as most of us cannot afford to buy pads, so when we start experiencing our periods we are forced to look for other means to cover our shame. Some resort to cutting pieces of clothes and mattresses to use instead. “We have motorcycle taxis called boda bodas and the girls engage in sex with the drivers who in exchange source the sanitary pads,”  “This is happening for two reasons. One obvious reason is poverty – girls and women don’t have the financial means to buy sanitary products.” UNICEF has highlighted research that found that 10 percent of young adolescent girls admitted to having transactional sex for pads in our region (western Kenya). Unfortunately, her friends have been less fortunate. “Most of my friends are suffering due to a lack of sanitary pads,” she said. “Meaning that most give in to boda bodas who get them pregnant. This leads to child pregnancies and families headed by children.” Periods are shrouded by stigma and systemic misinformation in the country – with superstitious beliefs about menstruation rife. Commonly held myths include the notion having periods makes one dirty and impure, periods are a disease or curse, food goes bad if you go in the kitchen during your period, and crops will die if you go into the garden when you are on your period. It goes without saying that if girls are not in school, it is more likely they will be forced into child marriage or teenage pregnancy. The production at Lenana Girls High School will offer a big relief to girls and women in Kenya and beyond. Already a sizeable number of pads have been produced and are so far the best and soft to the touch and easy to wear. I am sure in the near future we are going to reach as many girls and women as possible. Thank you!


Thank you for making this possible!

Our movement is grassroots, to us that not only means the work on the ground is led by local leaders with the support of the community, but it also means that we raise the funds for our projects through everyday donors just like you. In addition to all the donors that gave $25, $100, or $250 and the campaigners that ran a race or donated their birthday to raise funds, we also want to thank our generous business, school, and faith sponsors who believed in our work and joined the movement.

If you want to support future projects like this you can make a donation to our clean water fund.

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