, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 24 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has directed the Ministry of Finance to factor in provision of sanitary towels in schools in the coming financial year.
The PM directed that with effect from July this year, all girls attending school countrywide should be provided with sanitary towels.
Speaking at a forum on gender equality and equity, the Premier said that this was the only way to ensure the girl-child benefited fully from the free primary education.
"Something that is very disturbing is the issue of girls having to stay out of school because of lack of sanitary towels. It is something that we promised we will introduce when we came to power," he said.
"I have enquired from the Ministry of Public Health and the information I have received is that they have been working with the Ministry of Education but somehow they have run out of resources," the PM added.
He also said that the government had the responsibility to improve the plight of the suffering Kenyan women who were in most cases seen as the face of poverty.
"On paper all the laws are there but in practice some of them don\’t work and that is the gap we want to close," Mr Odinga said.
At the same time, the government was urged to ensure that women were well versed with political processes before next year\’s general elections.
The United Nations Children\’s Fund (UNICEF) Kenya representative Olivia Yambi said this was the only way to ensure full participation of women during and after the elections.
"In the run up to the elections of 2012, it will be important to ensure that there are gender responsive electoral arrangements and there will be training of women candidates and access to necessary finances," she said.
Gender Assistant Minister Manyala Keya said the government had made strides in ensuring a third representation of women with the current labour force in the public sector having 37 percent women.
"While this is an improvement from the previous years, a number of ministries are still far from attaining the 30 percent in employment of women and the number of women in positions of decision making is still very low," he said.
Follow the author at https://twitter.com/kittiekatk