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Female players in Kenya overcome “period shame” with union’s help

14 February 2020
Kenya player association KEFWA is helping female footballers to overcome “period shame” by providing them with sanitary towels and information about menstruation management.

Many female players in Kenya consider having menstruation to be an obstacle. They stay at home and skip matches or practice for fear of being embarrassed, KEFWA’s General Secretary Jerry Santo explained.

Some players cannot afford proper sanitary towels, using for example tissue paper instead, according to Rael Kamanda, a player of top tier team SEP Oyugis.

KEFWA partnered with a local foundation – set-up by national team player Johanna Omolo - to create a campaign which involves distributing sanitary towels and teaching female footballers about how to deal with menstruation. The Johanna Omolo Foundation has experience with similar campaigns.

“Period shame is something all of us feel at some point”, Kamanda told the Daily Nation. “If I was wearing white shorts during a football match, I would be so uncomfortable if I did not have proper sanitary towels.”

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Johanna Omolo (left) and Jerry Santo

Through this initiative both KEFWA and the Johanna Omolo Foundation aim to increase women’s participation in football.

Kenya's women team won the East- and Central Africa championship in November 2019. “This shows how much potential there is in the country,” said Omolo. “However, there are a lot of challenges faced by women in sports and specifically in the remote areas of the country.”

Johanna Omolo plays at Belgian club Cercle Brugge and is the winner of the 2019 FIFPRO Merit Award.

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