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How female journalist’s story influenced change in Kenya’s law

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A story by a former winner of the Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award has brought about a change in the law in Kenya.

As a result of her report, All Kenyan schoolgirls are now to get free sanitary pads, the government has said.

Four years ago, Judy Kosgei won the Thomson Foundation Young Journalist award for her revelatory stories, which included a story about how up to two million young girls were unable to access sanitary towels.

Judy, who at the time was working for Kenya’s leading media house, Citizen TV, interviewed girls living in a remote village in Kenya’s Baringo county to discover how this affected their lives.

Eight hundred and fifty thousand girls were a missing school in Kenya each month because they didn’t have adequate sanitary protection.

Her story, ‘Period of Shame’, filmed with cameramen Mauritius Odour and John Wanyama, prompted a campaign by Citizen TV which led to 720,000 sanitary towels being distributed to 10,000 girls in a campaign dubbed ‘Inua Dada’.

The following year a bill was drafted by Baringo county Women Representative Grace Kiptui calling on the Kenyan government to set aside a budget for the purchase and supply of free, quality sanitary towels to all girls in public and secondary schools in Kenya.

The draft bill – the Basic Education (Amendment) Legislative Proposal, 2014 – reached the committee stage in the Kenyan parliament in 2016 with Judy playing a key part in the development process in advocacy and liaison.

The amendment to the education act, which has now been signed into law by President Uhuru Kenyatta, states “free, sufficient and quality sanitary towels” must be provided to every girl registered at school, as well as providing “a safe and environmental sound mechanism for disposal”.

 

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