On 11th Sept 2019, Kenya woke up to the news of a 14-year old girl who committed suicide after a teacher shamed her for her menses in Bomet. The girl’s death re-ignited conversations about period shaming and access to menstrual products. Kenyan female parliamentarians, news anchors and other celebrities took to social media to express their views on the incident. Disgust, pain, outcry – these were some of the emotions communicated via those views.
Period shaming is one of the drivers that led to the establishment of Chaki. We grew up with the impression that talking about menstruation was a taboo. Some of us were not allowed in certain spaces – such as kitchens or churches – when we were on our menses because we were “dirty”. It was also the unspoken custom to guess that if a female classmate missed class, she had gotten her period. Sure, there could have been something else happening – maybe she was sick or something was wrong at home – but rarely (if ever) were those considerations made. Fast forward to today where we can talk about this issue, and even be change-makers in this space; where we can unapologetically
Our efforts of ensuring young girls have access to menstrual products are slowly bearing fruits. With great support from donors and well-wishers, we are making our mark in the marginalized areas of Kenya. When we visited Ya-Athi Primary School in Mbitini (Kitui County), we were almost driven to tears when we saw how appreciative the young girls were. They reminded us why we do what we do.
We are nowhere near where we want to be, but we have made great strides from where we started. Our story does not begin and end with 11 Sept, and neither is it close to ending. We march on; we fight on. This race for the availability of menstrual products is not over…yet.