Menstruation an uncomfortable topic #AlwaysStandUpKe

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Always Brand Ambassdor Kenya Basketball captain Silalei Owour donating sanitary pads at Raila Education Center (Kibera)

Always Brand Ambassdor Kenya Basketball captain Silalei Owour donating sanitary pads at Raila Education Center (Kibera) Photo: BAQE TV Facebook

This morning I passed by the supermarket, picked my snack and dashed to the till. The supermarket is usually short of staff in the mornings, so one or two counters are functional.

There was a queue on this single counter, which provided time to notice contents of people’s shopping baskets. I noticed among other things, the lady standing before me was carrying two cans of yoghurt and a double pack of Always sanitary pads. My attention was not drawn to the yoghurt; it was captured by the latter.

Just then, I realized that the secrecy with which we handle matters menstruation, and reproduction is in fact due to social conditioning. It does exist even in ladies. Evidently- it happened to me. I am a lady, I use these things, so why the cringe?

Do you remember the first time you asked a question about menstruation as a child? I do. At the age of nine. I asked a cousin of mine who was preparing cotton wool and wrapping them in tissue paper, what the things were for. She said, “you will know when you grow up”. Because I grew up knowing how to avoid topics that made people uncomfortable, I did not pursue it further.

I only came to have an idea what those cotton wrappings were for in class seven, when a team from Always came to our school to educate us on menstrual hygiene. They even gave us free sanitary pads, preparing us for puberty. Even late bloomers like myself were covered. I used my free hamper four years later.

My first time buying myself sanitary pads, further enforced the belief that those were things to be handled discreetly. I remember the teller at the supermarket wrapping it nicely with a newspaper, before placing it in a paper bag. This was a well-meaning teller, careful to save a teenage me from embarrassing stares. So, the contents of my shopping bag had to be concealed.

I wonder though why they didn’t find it necessary to wrap other consumables like milk or soap using newspapers and cello tape first.

Many girls do not get the privilege of getting the grand lesson of puberty from their parents because the topic is rather uncomfortable. These parents do not know how to broach the sensitive topic of sexuality. It is not their fault though; it is a generational thing. These have always been taboo subjects that are relegated to teachers.

We need to be more open about uncomfortable matters. This is why Always have been running the #AlwaysStandUpKe campaign, to encourage women to share stories of standing up for what they believe in. Well I believe in changing firmly held perceptions, by treating normal things like puberty and sexuality with ease, because they are normal milestones.

You can now stand up and keep a girl in school by dropping your donations of sanitary pads at any Nakumatt or Naivas supermarket branch.

Always Gift Hamper

I have a gift hamper from Always. What is your experience dealing with the issue of menstruation? Do you have a girl who you’d like to nominate to receive the gift hamper? Give us the stories on the comments section and we will select the winner. To qualify for the giveaway, you have to comment by Wednesday 6th April, 2016.


Renee Murrey · April 4, 2016 at 5:19 pm

I don’t think purchase of sanitary pads should be a well-kept secret. It is part and parcel of womanhood that should be embraced with pride.

I nominate Faith Naike to Kobutho Girls’ High School in Kiserian to win the hamper. Please give it to her? 🙂

    julieinspire · April 5, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    Thank you Renee for your nomination. We shall notify you on email by Wednesday if Faith is the winner.

Jane · April 5, 2016 at 11:41 am

I remember when mine started in class 6. I was immediately told by my friends to go the deputy headmistresses office to get assisted. She gave me cotton wool. I could not believe that a school in the city would be providing such. When I got home I told my my mum and she bought me my first pack of pads.

I would like to nominate Herine Adhiambo from St. Barnabas Girls Secondary School to receive a hamper.

    julieinspire · April 5, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    Hi Jane, Thank you for your story. Schools should stock sanitary pads for emergencies. Who knows of schools that stock emergency sanitary pads? Please mention them on the comments.

    Jane, we shall notify you on email by Wednesday, whether your nomination, Herine has won the hamper.

julieinspire · April 6, 2016 at 8:39 pm

The first hamper has gone to Herine Adhiambo of St Barnabas Girls’ Secondary school. Let’s keep donating pads to keep girls in school. #AlwaysStandUpKe

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