In a bold initiative towards educating and empowering young girls, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has launched ‘Oky Kenya’. This is a specifically tailored version of the world’s pioneering period tracker app that can function offline, intended primarily for girls residing in low- and middle-income countries like Kenya.
The revolutionary ‘Oky Kenya’ offers girls accurate and research-backed knowledge about menstruation in a manner that’s engaging, innovative, and positively affirming. It is uniquely crafted to embrace girls’ curiosity and understanding about their bodies and health.
Oky Kenya’s various features encompass personalized period cycle trackers and calendars, useful tips, and comprehensive information about menstruation. What makes this app more advantageous is its ability to function offline, making it accessible even in remote areas with unreliable internet access. Additionally, it has been designed with lower-end smartphones in mind, ensuring its widespread usability. To ensure everyone can benefit from it, the app is completely free of charge and does not include any disruptive advertisements.
Shaheen Nilofer, UNICEF’s Representative to Kenya, shared her insights on the pressing need for such an app. According to her, girls are increasingly turning to the internet to find answers to their pressing questions about menstrual health. However, they don’t always encounter accurate or helpful information.
Nilofer elaborated that the need for correct information about menstruation primarily stems from a desire to debunk numerous myths and misunderstandings that often breed feelings of anxiety, fear, and shame among young girls.
She extended her congratulations to Oky Kenya for creating an innovative solution tailored by Kenyan girls for Kenyan girls. Nilofer expressed her hope that this initiative would help dismantle societal barriers and equip girls with the tools necessary to manage their health, and ultimately, their lives.
In regions with limited access to clean water and sanitation, particularly rural and informal settlements, menstruation often poses an obstacle to girls’ education. Girls might miss school due to a lack of access to sanitary products or from the fear of potential embarrassment. Nilofer asserted that providing accurate information about menstruation is vital for fostering gender equality and enabling girls to navigate the changes they experience without hindering their day-to-day activities.
As a testament to its commitment to inclusivity, Oky Kenya also includes a read-out functionality. This allows girls with lower literacy levels or visual impairments to access dependable menstrual health information.
The Oky Kenya app is now available for download on Google Play in both English and Kiswahili languages. Furthermore, it is being adapted to other countries, including Burundi, South Africa, and Tanzania.
By providing vital menstrual health information, the Oky Kenya app aims to dismantle barriers and promote gender equality within education. The ripple effects of this could be transformative for society at large, as educated girls and women are more likely to enter the workforce, make informed health decisions, understand their family planning options, and contribute significantly to their communities.
UNICEF’s support in adapting Oky to fit the Kenyan context was crucial in its development. This collaboration was made possible with LVCT Health, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Education, all working in unison towards the shared goal of empowering girls and women in Kenya.