Influence of Government’s Sanitary Towels Initiative on Access and Participation in Education among Secondary School Girls in Nakuru County, Kenya
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Education all over the world has been prioritized as an important means for achievement of global SDGs, national development and individual’s social mobility. Educating girls is important to a nation’s development, attainment of SDGs and Kenya’s Vision 2030 considering that women and girls comprise over half the global population. Girls’ education has been hindered by several socio-cultural factors such as household chores, early marriages, teenage pregnancies and poverty which adversely affect access to basic amenities such as sanitary towels. These challenges bring about gender disparities in education. The government of Kenya is committed to end this disparity by ensuring equity of access and participation of all girls and boys in education. This is evidenced through education policies in place such as the Free Primary Education, Free Day Secondary Education, Affirmative Action and Government’s Sanitary Towels Initiative (GSTI) whose aim is to minimize barriers to education for girls and put them at par with the boys. This study’s motive was to explore the influence of GSTI on educational access and participation of secondary school girls in Kuresoi South Sub-County, Nakuru County. This study pursued trends in the provision of sanitary towels, the implications of such provision on school girls’ access and participation in education and the strategies for the sustainability of such provision in improving education. Liberal feminism theory guided this study and illuminates on how equality of opportunity is important for a person’s wellbeing thus making progressive social change possible. This theory holds that barriers to girls’ education should be eradicated so that they can receive equal educational opportunities as the boys. The study employed a descriptive survey research design; stratified random sampling and purposive sampling was useful in selecting schools and principals respectively. Simple random sampling was useful to draw class teachers and secondary school girls from the target population. Piloting was done in one school with similar characteristics as the target population. Questionnaires for students, interview schedules for principals and class teachers and document analysis are the research instruments that were useful in gathering data. Analysis of data was done both qualitatively and quantitatively. Findings revealed that GSTI is not providing adequate sanitary towels to schools despite existing policies. Further, sanitary towels provision has a positive impact on girls’ access and participation in education. This study established that the following strategies if implemented would ensure the sustainability of this initiative. There is need for adequate funding, clearer policies, constant supply through the year and increase in quality of the sanitary towels. Access to information on menstrual health and management is also very important. These findings are envisioned to be beneficial to all education stakeholders not only in Kenya but also internationally, as an eye-opener on the need of interventions to ensure equity of educational access and participation for both boys and girls.