Frequently Asked Questions
What does ZanaAfrica mean?
Zana is the Kiswahili word for tool. We chose this name because we’re equipping girls in Kenya with the tools they need to define and step into their own potential. We know that girls are inherently powerful and with the right support, can be equipped to express their purpose in the world.
Where do you work?
We work with girls and community-based organizations throughout Kenya with a goal to expand across East Africa and beyond. Our offices are based in Nairobi, Kenya with communications and development officers based in the United States.
In Kenya, adolescent girls risk life-changing violations of their human rights including early marriage, sexual and gender-based violence, unintended pregnancy, and female genital cutting. Such pressures are insurmountable without knowledge of their bodies and rights; yet, there is no mandated menstrual, sexual, and reproductive health and rights education (MSRHR) curriculum to deliver this critical help. If girls cannot get answers to questions about puberty, or the tools for decision-making, they cannot make decisions in relationships.
Consequently, 60% of Kenyan girls drop out of secondary school, 47% of teenage pregnancies are unintended, and girls’ HIV prevalence is 4X that of boys. Compounding this challenge, 2 in 3 girls in Kenya cannot access sanitary pads. The inability to manage menstruation reliably, coupled with a lack of reproductive health education causes shame, embarrassment, missed school days, and accounts for 10% of all teenage transactional sex. Moreover, 46% of Kenyans live below the poverty line. Supporting girls who are in low-income situations in this critical moment of puberty enables them to not only attend school, but to perform at higher rates. The more school that girls attend, the better their chance of earning more and transforming their own lives, as well as their family and their community. The World Bank states that if every girl in Kenya were to graduate from high school, there would be a 46% increase in country GDP across her lifetime.
Our current programming is being implemented in Kilifi, Kenya due to its large population of adolescents, high poverty levels, and evidenced need for MSRHR support for girls. In 2017, Kilifi County recorded not only the highest rates of teenage pregnancy, but also child marriage, and severe incidences of sexual predation and abuse by older men. Kilifi also reported high rates of child-to-child sexual abuse, indicating a significant need for interventions at the community level. ZanaAfrica’s work is changing these sobering statistics and catalyzing measurable impact through our programming.
How did ZanaAfrica begin?
Do you make pads too?
Our partner, ZanaAfrica Group, the business arm of our hybrid social enterprise manufactures high quality sanitary pads and related products designed for women, by women. Their brand, Nia, is sold throughout Kenya. To learn more about their products visit: www.zanaafrica.com.
Do you offer reusable products to girls?
Although we educate girls on all their menstrual health options, we choose to support girls with disposable sanitary pads because that’s what girls almost unanimously ask for. We believe it’s important to give girls what they seek and want. Additionally, many girls in Kenya lack the infrastructure and resources (clean water, soap, private bathrooms, etc.) to be able to hygienically manage a reusable product.
Our social enterprise, ZanaAfrica Group, is the only social enterprise globally that offers women and girls a range of reusable and disposable products as it is important to offer women and girls choice in their menstrual hygiene options.
Do you offer tampons to girls?
Although they are available in Kenya, we have not supported girls with tampons, as they are not a widely used product in Kenya, as insertion of products is considered taboo. However, as we believe in the power of choice, we'll most definitely consider moving forward should girls request it.
How old are the girls that you work?
Our programs and content are designed for girls between the ages of 10-21, but we hope as many girls, younger and older, will benefit from our work.
Do you have any programs for boys?
At the moment, our focus is on supporting girls. However, our health education content is designed with the understanding that boys will be “reading over the girls’ shoulders” so we’ve modeled a lot of positive role models within our Nia Teen for boys as well!
Is ZanaAfrica a faith-based organization?
No, ZanaAfrica is not a faith-based organization. However, the tenants of social justice and purpose are embedded in all we do. “Nia” means “purpose” in Kiswahili. Directly and indirectly, our work helps girls to believe in, find, and step into their own purpose. We are not bound by any religious affiliations, but we do support girls and communities who may identify as Christian, Muslim, and/or practice indigenous religions. We also collaborate with a variety of secular and faith-based organizations to carry out our interventions in an effort to ensure that girls are supported and celebrated during puberty.