Every year on 28th May, the world celebrates Menstrual Hygiene Day; a global advocacy platform that brings together the voices and actions of non-profits, government agencies, individuals, the private sector and the media to promote good menstrual health and hygiene (MHH) for all women and girls. More specifically, Menstrual Hygiene Day breaks the silence, raises awareness and changes negative social norms around MHH, and engages decision-makers to increase the political priority and catalyse action for MHH, at global, national and local levels.
This year was no different in the coastal jewel, Kilifi county where Y-ACT in collaboration with the county’s MHM/ SRHR coalition alongside government departments and other partners sought to commemorate World Menstrual Hygiene, starting off with a series of planning meetings. Being the first county to have domesticated the National Menstrual Hygiene Policy after its launch on 28th May 2020, the Kilifi county government and partners continue to reaffirm their commitment to improving Menstrual Hygiene Management among women and girls. This document coupled with the implementation framework will go a long way in ensuring increased budgetary allocations by the County Government as well as improved coordination of MHM activities in the County. These guidelines validated by various stakeholders between 25th-27th May 2021 prior to the Menstrual Hygiene Day celebrations in the county, serve as a big milestone in advancing access to menstrual hygiene products and services to girls and women.
However, the spotlight feature of this year’s Menstrual Hygiene Day celebrations in Kilifi county was the cycling caravan whose main aim was to create awareness within the community on the importance of Menstrual health management. Further, the Kilifi MHM Coalition sought to distribute dignity packs along designated stop overs along the highway where the caravan would take place, all in a bid to bridge the access gap to menstrual hygiene products for vulnerable young women and girls. Flagged off by the Deputy County Commissioner Jonathan Mutisya, the cycling caravan saw over 600 girls benefit from dignity packs as well as menstrual hygiene talks. The activity which also attracted the media fraternity like Citizen TV, K24 and Standard no doubt made tremendous strides in amplifying just how important menstrual hygiene management is to enabling women and girls manage their menstrual health with the dignity they deserve.
Kilifi county is no doubt a trailblazer in the MHM space, addressing an issue that has for so long been shrouded in shame and stigma. These strides made towards improving MHM serve as a call to action for other county governments to domesticate the National MHM Policy and Strategy to ensure that no girl in Kenya is left behind. However, county governments cannot do this alone. Multi-sectoral action is the way to go if we are to achieve effective MHM that will in turn allow women and girls to realize their rights to the fullest.