Kenya: Taveta Slum Girls Using Football to Stay Safe

21 January 2021

Young girls from slums in Taveta, Taita Taveta County have devised creative and productive ways to safeguard against negative peer influence.

The global pandemic - Covid-19 - that forced schools to close in March, had devastating effects on girls, especially from informal settlements.

More than 60 girls from the informal settlements in Bomeni Ward turned to football as they waited for schools to reopen.

One of their supervisors Adel Mkiwa, says the football team was formed to prevent the girls from engaging in activities that would lead to early pregnancy or drug abuse.

Post-Covid-19

Ms Mkiwa says the game kept the girls busy, ensuring they continue with their education post-Covid-19.

"The girls would wake up very early for morning run and come back in the afternoon for the games. They didn't have time to loiter around because their training schedule was quite rigorous," she says.

The girls also had mentorship sessions offered by various youth groups with talks focusing on their education, menstrual health and hygiene.

One of their coaches, Consolata Said notes that most of the girls lack sanitary towels and are sometimes forced to seek alternative means to get them.

"Their parents are very poor. When schools closed, they were not able to get pads (from school) as they used to," she laments.

Sexual engagement

She says they help the girls get the sanitary towels from well-wishers.

"Sometimes they run short of supplies, which might make them seek help from men and this could lead to sexual engagement, teen pregnancy and eventually dropping out of school," she says.

Stand Up Shout Out (Suso) Taita Taveta division, a youth group in the county, offers menstrual health education to the girls and supplies them with sanitary towels.

"Most of these girls cannot access pads because of poverty. We have decided to provide them with the pads as they waited for schools to reopen," Clemence Mnyika, the youth group director says.

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