Article by Carly Jones
Access to feminine hygiene products is the cornerstone of a woman’s ability to claim agency over her body. Yet, with the feminine hygiene product market generating billions of dollars in revenue, these products are often made inaccessible by their price. This disparity in access is especially profound within low- and middle-income countries, such as Kenya, begging the need for Megan White Mukuria’s non-profit foundation, ZanaAfrica. In Kenya, 60% of girls are unable to access menstrual products. As a result, they are forced to endanger both their physical health and security, resorting to fashioning homemade products from rags, or even exchanging sex for sanitary napkins. Additionally, because of the shame associated with menstruation within Kenya’s culture, girls often remain confined to their homes throughout their cycles, with 60% of this demographic eventually dropping out of high school. ZanaAfrica not only addresses this physical need, supplying menstrual products to marginalized girls, but also provides community resources necessary to educate these girls and their communities regarding menstruation through a healthy lens, dispelling stubborn taboos and facilitating a smooth transition to adolescence. ZanaAfrica has reached approximately 50,000 girls since 2013, and with the $2.6 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is looking to use the positive social, health, and education outcomes of Kenya’s girls to replicate such a program throughout the entirety of African continent, ultimately reaching millions.