Girls in the UK are experiencing the same problem as their peers in Kenya according to a British group which supports Kenyan schoolgirls.
Organisations such as Boo Charity supply sanitary products to Kenyan schoolgirls to boost their school attendance, but it appears the same problem is facing girls back in the UK too.
Freedom4Girls, a group which seeks to raise awareness and campaign for safe sanitary protection for girls in Kenya, was contacted by a school in Leeds after it became concerned about teenage girls’ attendance.
As a result, the group not only provides sanitary products to women in Kenya, but is now doing the same in West Yorkshire.
The problem was brought into sharp focus by one teenager who told the BBC that she taped toilet roll to her underwear and missed school “every month” because of her period.
Two teenage girls spoke to BBC Radio Leeds about how they tried to cope without tampons, sanitary towels or pain relief.
One of the girls revealed that her periods had started when she was 11 and would take a few days off school every month.
“I wrapped a sock around my underwear just to stop the bleeding, because I didn’t want to get shouted at. And I wrapped a whole tissue roll around my underwear, just to keep my underwear dry until I got home. I once Sellotaped tissue to my underwear. I didn’t know what else to do,” she said.
“I kept this secret up until I was 14 years old and then I started asking for help.
“I didn’t get any money because my mum was a single parent and she had five mouths to feed, so there wasn’t much leftover money in the pot to be giving to us.”
Another teenager said: “When I went on my period I started taking time off school, because I didn’t know what was actually going on with my body. That made my attendance really low and I was getting in trouble.
“One day the teachers came to my house and asked why I’m not at school and they actually took me to school.
“I thought it was only happening to me… so I was scared and I wanted to stay at home.”
On the group’s GoFundMe page, the group explains what they are working to achieve and why:
We are raising awareness and money for girls and women across the world who do not have access to safe sanitary protection.
Each month they have no dignity when menstruating.
We all have accidents imagine that happening to you every month.
The provision of affordable and quality sanitary products will have a positive impact on the physical, social and mental wellbeing of adolescent girls and women.
The money raised will go towards equal access to education for girls and young women who will not have to miss school due to menstruation.
It will increase the educational attainment of adolescent girls living in such poverty that they do not have access to safe sanitary protection.
A mere £6 will give a girl in Africa a sanitary pack that will last up to 3 years, and stop her losing up to a week every month in education. If you would like to support the Freedom4Girls’ work in the UK and Kenya, you can do so via their GoFundMe page.