According to the 2019 Population and Housing Census, the population of Kenya is 47,564,296 and that of females is at 24,014,716 which is 50.5 percent of the population. This means that a significant number of women and girls in Kenya menstruate every month. For Kenya to achieve a just and cohesive society that enjoys equitable social development, favorable MHM outcomes must be ensured. It goes without saying that the implementation of the MHM policy and strategy could greatly contribute to gender equality by enabling young women and girls actively participate in all aspects of society. Young people make up approximately 70% of Kenya’s population, which means that the greatest beneficiaries of the MHM policy and strategy will be young women and girls.
On 28th May, CS Mutahi Kagwe of the Ministry of Health launched the Menstrual Hygiene Management Policy and Strategy during World Menstrual Hygiene Day celebrations. Kenya is the first country to develop a standalone MHM policy and strategy developed with multi-stakeholder input under the leadership of the Ministry of Health. The policy and strategy documents provide an opportunity for increased prioritization of Menstrual Hygiene Management as well as a framework for policy implementation and clarification of the roles and responsibilities of different stakeholders.
The Kenya MHM Strategy sets out strategic focus areas with the aim of mainstreaming MHM, strengthening partnerships and coordination, development and maintenance of Water sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) infrastructure, strengthening MHM education and awareness, promoting advocacy and resource mobilization, and establishing effective Monitoring and Evaluation systems for MHM. Further, the Menstrual Health Management policy clearly outlines the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders and while there has been no specific mention of the youth, we believe that young people bear the responsibility of holding stakeholders and partners accountable.
The MHM policy and strategy is linked to consensus documents such as SDGs and is informed by the principles of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), adopting a life cycle approach (looking at the issue of MHM throughout the life cycle), and providing informed choice (access to the widest possible range of safe, effective and acceptable means to manage menstruation, and information to make a choice among those means).
The policy speaks to the dire need of empowering young people, especially adolescent girls and women, contributing to the benefit which individuals and societies can draw from the ‘demographic dividend’1 and hence, contributing to the achievement of Africa’s Agenda 2063: The Africa we want.
Indeed, it is our hope that young people will take up an active role in the implementation of the policy and strategy within their communities, as well as serve as a watchdog to hold the government and its partners accountable. Y-ACT, an initiative of Amref Health Africa seeks to continue supporting the implementation and dissemination of these documents in an effort to support the wellbeing of the Kenyan youth.
The MHM Policy and Strategy can both be accessed on the Ministry of Health’s website.