Jhpiego's Girls Helping Girls Worldwide Program Spurs Local Schools to Help Girls in Kenya Stay in School

50,000 Sanitary Pads Collected

BALTIMORE, Sept. 30, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Four schools in the Baltimore and Washington, DC, area have partnered with Jhpiego, a nonprofit global health affiliate of Johns Hopkins University, to donate nearly 50,000 feminine sanitary pads to schools in Kenya.

Many girls in Kenya lack easy access or the financial means to obtain feminine hygiene products. During their menstrual cycles, these girls stay home because of pain, shame and embarrassment—some missing as many as 36 days of school annually.

Although they have overcome many challenges to attend school, the girls miss class work and sometimes fail exams, which puts them at a further disadvantage and can lead to the end of their education.

Despite the widespread availability of sanitary pads and media advertisements about the benefits of using them, the poverty that many Kenyans experience forces them to choose between buying food for their family and buying feminine products. Thus, many girls make improvised pads with materials they already have, such as torn fabric. In addition, some men offer sanitary pads in exchange for sex.

"When I was a girl, I used rags, mattress sponges, any clothing that was available since we could not afford sanitary pads," said Jane Otai, senior program advisor at Jhpiego in Kenya who brought attention to this issue in a blog post on the Half the Sky Movement website.

Through the Girls Helping Girls Worldwide program at Jhpiego, high school students at St. Paul's School for Girls in Brooklandville, Garrison Forest School in Owings Mills, Holton-Arms School in Bethesda and the National Cathedral School in Washington, DC, learned about these girls' struggles and initiated a sanitary pad campaign that combines adolescent health education with a collection drive for sanitary pads. The schools collected 48,208 sanitary pads.

"As St. Paul's School for Girls cares deeply about women's health and ensuring that all girls have access to education, we were pleased to partner with Jhpiego and other sister schools to collect feminine pads for students in Kenya," said Rev. Susie Ballenger, Chaplain at St. Paul's Schools for Girls.

"We are thrilled our girls had an opportunity to work with Jhpiego on The Pad Project. Experiences such as these provide real-world contexts for learning by connecting our students with professionals who truly make a global impact," said Melissa A. Brown, the Director of Global Education and a Spanish teacher at Holton-Arms.

The sanitary pads will be shipped to Kenya, where they will be distributed to approximately 15 local schools with the help of a Jhpiego Kenya staff member.

A donation from Baltimore civic leader Pat Bernstein is supporting shipment of the pads. "This is a fine example of how this organization reaches youngsters in meaningful ways," said Bernstein.

For more information, please contact Melody McCoy, Vice President of External Relations and Communications, at Melody.McCoy@Jhpiego.org or 410.537.1829.

About Jhpiego

Jhpiego is an international, nonprofit health organization affiliated with Johns Hopkins University. For over 40 years, Jhpiego has empowered front-line health workers by designing and implementing effective, low-cost, hands-on solutions to strengthen the delivery of health care services for women and their families. For more information, go to http://www.jhpiego.org.

A photo accompanying this release is available at: http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=36561

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