MILKA HADIDA: Striving to end period poverty in Tana River County

Feature Health & Wellness

Milka Hadida Yuda is a volunteer at Kenya Red Cross. She is a girl child rights advocate, motivational speaker and a reproductive health ambassador. She strives to end Period Poverty, FGM and GBV in a county that is still led by these traditions. We caught up with her as she shared her story.

Some time last year, there was a heartbreaking story that was aired in our TVs about young girls digging holes during menstruation since they could not afford sanitary towels. As a person on the ground, is this the situation currently? What challenges are the girls in the region facing?

Yes it’s true, but I have changed the situation a little because I make sure every girl in the community never lacks sanitary towels every month. The challenges they are facing include: Early marriages, Forced marriages, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), Gender Based Violence (GBV) and lack of moral support and counseling during menstruation cycles.

How does culture contribute to this? Are there any other factors that are contributing to this situation?

Yes, culture often leads to Poverty, preference of male children to girls, stigma and lack of sex education in the community.

In your own capacity, what activities do you do in order to help these young girls?

I distribute sanitary towels to less fortunate in the community. I also conduct focus group discussion in every village. This also includes establishment and strengthening of girls clubs in schools and offering motivational talk every weekend.

When it comes to issues of FGM and early marriages, how do you think these can be reduced/stopped?

Many of the girls now know their rights and if we can train the women who deal with FGM and offer civic education, we can help these girls. For early marriages, we can teach them the importance of a girl child because here in Tana River county, it is considered that girls are for marriage only.

mwangaza | Mwangaza

How many girls have you reached so far? Any success story/milestone you can share with us?

I have reached 12,300 girls and more because I deal with both 3 sub counties. Many girls are now aware of themselves and they have built self confidence. Some of the girls have been able to report to authorities when forced into early marriages, forced marriages, FGM; through the training offered in  clubs and group discussions.

What challenges do you face in your work?

Mobility of travelling from one area to another is a challenge as I cycle frequently. Harsh weather conditions during certain seasons, and inadequate support to carry out the various initiatives.

How has the community received your work? Especially among the men?

Some communities have been supportive and have welcomed me fully. Although not all have responded well especially the pastoralist communities

What role can society play especially when it comes to empowering women & girl in the society?

Supporting the girl child clubs by having weekly or monthly visits to create dialogues and build confidence, offering exchange programs between counties with some of these girls, supporting the club matrons through trainings, mobility of movements to access the areas that are hard to reach.

How can someone donate/assist you in reaching out to the vulnerable girls?

Anyone who needs to donate can reach me through my number. (Available upon request)

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