Climate change shocks fuel period poverty 

Source: Climate change shocks fuel period poverty -Newsday Zimbabwe

For Chelma Machiya, a 21-year-old from ward 8, Machiya village in Chimanimani, period poverty and early marriages are the order of the day.

Climate change-induced shocks and poverty have left thousands of young women in the remote areas of Chimanimani exposed to early marriages and period poverty, NewsDay has learnt.

Many young women have had to survive the challenges of period poverty through green skilling initiatives and climate change adaptation.

This comes as many adolescent girls in Zimbabwe miss school due to period poverty which refers to the consequences linked to an inability to afford sanitary products to use during menstruation.

According to a study conducted by Care International in May last year, 72% of girls in Zimbabwe do not use sanitary products because they cannot afford while a further 62% misses school every month due to a lack of sanitary wear.

The humanitarian organisation further highlighted that the highest percentage of those directly affected are girls from low-income families, especially in rural areas where cyclical droughts and flooding have affected communities’ way of life putting them in a position where they cannot afford to buy sanitary products.

This in turn creates a vicious cycle that not only affects the education of the girls but also their mental well-being as they are stigmatised.

For Chelma Machiya, a 21-year-old from ward 8, Machiya village in Chimanimani, period poverty and early marriages are the order of the day.

Machiya said young girls in her village had high hopes of going back to school and accessing efficient health services“We daydream of the day we will have a chance to go back to school and through some of the skills we have learnt, we have managed to beat the period poverty scourge

“We can now buy our own sanitary pads which are safer than the other alternatives we were using thereby putting our bodies at risk of infections and other related sexual reproductive health (SRHR) diseases,” she said.

Machiya, however, bemoaned the long distances they walk to access SRHR services.

“Our health facilities are long distances away, which comes across as a huge problem, the distance is approximately 4km taking into consideration that there is a stream that we must cross. In case there are floods, it becomes difficult to access services as there is no bridge.”

Another young woman, who requested anonymity, said the drinking water in the area was contaminated and there was no safer alternative for young women.

“In our village there is no clean water and I believe this also contributes to our health being affected. Another issue that needs to be put into consideration is that of early child marriages as a major part of our village’s young women find themselves married,” she said.

The woman called for more interventions from relevant stakeholders to ensure the issues of child marriages and period poverty are adequately addressed.

Shamwari YeMwanasikana development and partnerships officer Lisa Bianca Bonongwe said: “As the world is witnessing the catastrophic effects of climate change, Zimbabwe has not been spared especially for people in Chimanimani who have experienced flash floods and devastating cyclones.”

This, Bonongwe said, had left women and girls more vulnerable as they were already dealing with a lot of inequalities in terms of education and opportunities.

She said the climate change-induced shocks put girls at more risk leading to a lot of abuse cases being reported.