The Menstrual Health and Gender Justice Working Group is pleased to announce the publication of a working paper by fellow Anja Tolonen. The paper is part of a larger series of working papers in development economics co-sponsored by the Columbia University Center for Development Economics and Policy and the Center for Global Economic Governance.

This working paper (CDEP‐CGEG WP No. 74, March, 2019) explores absenteeism patterns among female and male students across in 30 schools in Western Kenya, and if a sanitary product program targeting girls aged 13-16 can reduce absenteeism rates using a randomized controlled trial. The paper finds that:

  • (i) absenteeism is common among both boys and girls,
  • (ii) girls are more likely to be absent from school because of transfers than boys, but not for other reasons;
  • (iii) girls receiving sanitary pads were marginally less likely absent from school, compared to girls who did not receive pads.

Moreover, the paper compares school register data with researcher collected spot-check data and finds that the school records suffer from measurement error, and should not be used in impact evaluations and quantitative research without proper validation ex ante. The paper recommends that programs aiming to reduce absenteeism target both adolescent boys and girls, and that menstrual-health related programs explore outcomes beyond absences, such as confidence and participation in school activities. To view the working paper, please click below.