“Millions of young women throughout the developing world miss up to 60 days of school per year due to improper or absence of MHM (Menstrual Hygiene Management).”

Proper MHM begins with education...

MHM education is substandard or non-existent in many developing countries. This is primarily because menstruation is considered taboo or unclean and is not discussed. In some cultures, monthly periods have been labeled “The Week of Shame,” requiring women and girls to leave the home to stay in makeshift shelters until they are “clean.”

Access to feminine hygiene products is also an issue in Kenya. Many families cannot afford the disposable products in stores, resulting in the use of alternative materials such as strips of cloth, or even mattress stuffing. These alternatives can cause severe infections, which many result in infertility or death. Governments and humanitarian organizations have attempted to provide feminine hygiene products for schools, yet these programs are all too often inconsistent or short-lived.

Methods for disposal of feminine hygiene products in developing countries are virtually non-existent.

With pit latrines as the norm for many homes and schools, used feminine hygiene products are often disposed of out in the open, causing additional unsanitary conditions and health risks.

With all this considered, it is no wonder young women avoid interaction with others during their monthly periods, especially at school. Consequently, the more school they miss, the greater the chances are they will fall behind and drop out.  Those who drop out, especially young women living in rural areas, often face sexual abuse and are forced into child marriages.  Unfortunately, some girls are so desperate to stay in school they turn to selling themselves to men for 50 cents to pay for menstrual pads.

Jasiri Kit

In response, Foothold launched the Jasiri Project. In Swahili, Jasiri means “Bold, Confident & Brave.” Foothold initiated the program by providing training, a foot-powered sewing machine and materials to the Namelok Ladies group. These Maasai ladies began producing washable sanitary pads for their community in 2016.  The pads are made with local materials and provide an income to the women’s group.

The Jasiri pad kit includes 4 pads, a pouch for storage, a smaller drawstring bag and two pairs of underwear. Each kit costs approximately $6. Jennifer Moses, a member of the Namelok ladies group who dropped out of school when she started her period accompanies Charity Kiriinya(our general manager) when they pass out donated Jasiri kits.

Jennifer helps educate girls and boys about menstruation.  She hopes to discourage boys from shaming young women in regard to their periods.  As a female who faced sexual assaults once she dropped out, she shares her story and encourages girls to stay in school to better protect themselves.  Jennifer and Charity make sure to explain to girls proper care and use of their re-usable Jasiri pads.  There are variations to the kit starting at $2 for sale in the community to meet women’s unique needs. The pads have even been modified for those with incontinence.

While Jasiri pads are reasonably priced for most families, there are still many women and girls who cannot afford them. With this in mind, Foothold International has set up a sponsorship program for young ladies such as these.

For more information on how to become a part of Jasiri, or the sponsorship program, contact Brad Catron: bradcatron@footholdinternational.org or (740) 649-9596.

DONATE

Another way to support the Jasiri Project is to purchase a T-shirt.  Not only do the proceeds provide a Jasiri kit for a girl in Kenya, but they also serve to promote menstrual equity globally.  We encourage men and women to wear them to help address the global stigma around menstration.

The shirts are Bella + Canvas T-shirt’s so they are a great fit and fabric.

Purchase T-Shirts

To read more about Jennifer’s story and others who have been impacted by Jasiri, check out our blog page for updates and more.

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