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Online Program

Exploring the emerging role of re-usable sanitary napkins in sexual and reproductive health programming: A community-based approach to improving the lives and holistic well-being of Kenyan women

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 8:55 a.m. - 9:20 a.m.

Leah C. Neubauer, Ed.D., MA, Master of Public Health Program, DePaul University, Chicago, IL
Raphael Gakinya, Youth for Life, Athi River, Kenya, Kenya
James E. Bonney, Huru International, New York City, NY
Andrew J. Riplinger, MA, Rafiki Collaborative, Chicago, IL
Kenya is home to over 38 million people, with the 6th highest HIV prevalence rate in sub-Saharan Africa. 3 out of 5 HIV-infected Kenyans are female. HIV prevalence rates among women (ages 15-64) are 8.7% compared to men (ages 15-64) at 5.6%. Young women ages 15-24 are 4 times more likely to be HIV infected.

This presentation will detail the efforts of two global-focused NGO's collaborative efforts to develop and implement sanitary-napkin distribution-oriented sexual and reproductive health programs. Multiple studies have demonstrated that young women miss school when menstruating or engage in transactional sexual acts with older men to earn money to purchase sanitary towels (maxi pads) so they can attend school. To address heightened risk of sexual violence/HIV transmission among vulnerable women, international partnership members developed an HIV prevention and reproductive health program designed to increase: a) feminine hygiene product access, b) self-esteem/community awareness, c) education/school attendance, and d) income-generating opportunities.

The multi-session critical health education programs combine Kenyan and US evidenced-based approaches with peer training, sanitary towel distribution, a health resource center, and school/community-based health fairs and awareness campaigns.

In 2012, the program reached over 50,000 young women, dispersing over 400,000 reusable sanitary napkins. Decreases in school-based teasing and increases in school attendance, confidence in addressing one's reproductive health, and community member awareness were reported.

Tackling gender disparities is enriched with collaborative, multi-level, multi-sectoral approaches involving individuals, schools and key community stakeholders (including men/young boys). Additional programming on life skills, sanitary-towel creation, and income-generating projects are in progress.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe the role of critical health education in addressing gender disparities for young women in Kenya Identify the key components of the community-based Athi River Female Empowerment Program and Huru International Describe the community-based action research and planning process utilized by the international, collaborative partnership

Keyword(s): Community Health Programs, Reproductive Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the PI for this project
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.