Statistics from the Kenya Ministry of Education show that while girls and boys enter primary school at about the same rate, girls are more likely to dropout in grades 6–8. This is due to circumstances such as inadequate sanitary facilities, lack of school security, early marriage, the need for household labor on the farm or at home and long walking distances to school, which is more dangerous for girls. The positive effects of keeping girls in school are well documented: higher wages, later age of sexual debut and marriage, better farm productivity and family nutrition, smaller family size, lower infant and maternal mortality, higher rates of school enrollment for future children, and, notably, a reduction of HIV rates.
In partnership with Harpeth Hall School in Nashville, TN, the Lwala Community Alliance provides school uniforms and packs of reusable menstrual pads to schoolgirls in grades 6-8 in 13 local schools. Both the uniforms and the pads are locally produced by our women’s sewing cooperative. At the same time, we are working with our partner Blood:Water Mission to provide water access, latrines, and hygiene training at the schools. We hope these small incentives will boost girls’ attendance during those critical years.