HappyFlow Monday - Menstrual care banks and education assist in combatting FGM

Words by Magdaline Majuma

During this time of the year cases of Female Genital Mutilation are on the rise. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is the removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. FGM has negative impacts on the right to dignity and directly conflicts with the right to physical integrity, as it involves the mutilation of healthy body parts of a woman.

FGM may cause some girls and women to have painful menstrual periods. Some women are left with only a small opening for urinating and menstrual bleeding. They may not be able to pass all of their menstrual blood, and this can cause pain and periods that are longer than normal. Some women may also have infections over and over again. Additional risks include urinary complications, painful sexual intercourse and severe bleeding leading to hemorrhagic infection.

Msichana Empowerment Kuria is Young Women's grassroot organisation with a major focus of ending FGM in her generation. Over the past 5 years we have worked closely with communities and have seen the need and necessity of a menstrual care bank. 85% of young women and adolescent girls in rural Kenya cannot afford menstrual care products.

We aim to reduce this number significantly by implementing a 'Find Her, Listen To Her and Design With Her' model. We give power to young women and girls from marginalised communities to identify their peers who are in need of menstrual care package and direct them to our offices or collect and distribute within the community to reach out to as many girls as we possibly can, helping them stay in school. We also ensure that we reach out to those out of school as well.

Given the fact that these girls have guardians or parents, we ensure they too aren't left behind - we have menstrual hygiene lessons and sexual reproductive health and rights sessions for them.

We want to give power to girls and parents in Kuria Migori county (and surrounding areas) by allowing them to design the project and take the lead in giving us monthly quotations of menstrual care packages that will be sufficient for them per month.