A team of innovators have joined the campaign to accelerate access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) services in a bid to tackle the rapidly rising cases of Gender-Based Violence (GBV), teenage pregnancies and maternal mortality through various inventive technologies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a virtual stakeholders’ forum facilitated by New Faces New Voices Kenya, the innovators shared their web-based intervention approaches and offline digital terrestrial interventions aimed at bridging the SRHR gaps that continue to widen during COVID- 19 pandemic.
Mums Village Kenya Acting Chief Executive Millicent Muigai said digital platforms have been a safe haven for women going through emotional, psychological or physical abuse especially, during the COVID- 19 season by availing a social support network through peer to peer interaction with counsellors and lawyers and empowering them to make informed decisions.
“Our abuse-support groups on the WhatsApp platform provides a question and answer forum that has so far impacted over 300,000 women who share their heart-wrenching stories. Initially, we successfully organized physical meetups with the GBV victims and assisted them to get legal and counselling support. Due to the current pandemic, we have since migrated to an online platform, paused the physical meetups and adjusted our e-commerce systems to be at par with hygiene measures,”
Imara TV Co-Founder Stephen Maina noted that there is need to amplify sex education, especially in the grassroots through technology, to curb the prevalence of risky sexual social behaviours among young people such as ‘sex for fish’, ‘sex for money’ and other transactional sex practises going on due to financial constraints.
Through documentaries, animations and series of SRHR-related content, Imara TV targets a robust online audience. According to Stephen, COVID-19 and the movement restrictions has brought about a shift in focus for Imara TV, an edutainment platform on sexual reproductive health issues.
“Instead of producing live films, we have now shifted to animated films that can be done remotely. We are also working in partnership with the Ministry of Health to create educational animation videos aimed at training medical personnel about coronavirus across our 47 counties,”
“Our growth strategy is to expand our broadcast to Free to Air platform which has over 5.04 milliom registered households with a signal coverage of 88% population in Kenya,”
In the sphere of eco-friendly disposal of sanitary towels and PPE kits to preserve our environment, Genesis Care who are among the top three women-led entrepreneurs that won USD10,000 to scale up their innovative solutions in a competition held by Graça Machel Trust, Nailab and UNFPA Kenya in 2018, have taken the lead with their innovative incinerators.
The menstrual hygiene incinerators are very essential in disposing off used sanitary towels that are overflowing in latrines hence posing a threat to our environment, hygiene and at times even access to clean and safe water.
“COVID-19 pandemic has brought about the challenge of disposal of PPE kits, masks and gloves. We have been able to innovate beyond the disposal of sanitary towels and the Genesis incinerator is now also able to provide an eco-friendly disposal of hazardous medical supplies for various Counties in the country,”
said Genesis Care Co-Founder Catherine Wanjoya.
In the accessibility of sanitary ware for school going children, Munira Twahir, Founder of Inteco Limited, a process innovation company based in Kenya, invented the Ari Pad ATM dispenser that offers children in schools to access a sanitary pad with a unique ID card.
“Our solution offers a supply and distribution management system with proper accountability structures and processes. By offering women discrete access of single packed sanitary pads through their sanitary pad dispenser brand, we ensure positive menstrual experience for adolescent girls in Kenya,”
said Munira Twahir.
She added that Inteco’s current focus is to engage strategic partners to help in navigating the COVID landscape and allow adolescent girls to access sanitary pads in an out of school system especially, with schools being closed.
Other innovators also included Irving Amukasa, Co-Founder and CEO of Sophie Bot that has demonstrated the significance of using anonymous forums and digital chatbots to enable many people to share their plights on sexuality and sexual reproductive health via App, Telegram, Twitter and website through texts and voice chats.
Moderated by Inua Dada Founder and Trustee Janet Mbugua, the virtual forum aimed at elevating entrepreneurs that have dedicated interventions that address sexual reproductive health challenges. It is also aimed at challenging youth representatives and entrepreneur-innovator hubs to forge collaborations and partnerships that seek to address the gaps in sexual reproductive health (SRH).
Dubbed Interventions in SRHR, the webinar is the fourth series of an ongoing campaign to fueling action towards the achievement of SRHR agendas especially during COVID- 19 pandemic. It is facilitated by New Faces New Voices Kenya, in conjunction with Graça Machel Trust, Global Fund for Women and United Nations Population Fund.
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