Women still using ash, sacks as sanitary pads

via Women still using ash, sacks as sanitary pads – NewsDay Zimbabwe November 10, 2015

SCORES of women in Zimbabwe continue to use ash, sacks, feathers or old pieces of blankets as sanitary wear, which exposes them to infection, a locally-based organisation has noted.

By Phyllis Mbanje

WeCareZim, a local non-governmental organisation which is dedicated to distributing sanitary pads to disadvantaged girls in schools in Zimbabwe’s rural areas, said shortage of sanitary wear was also hindering girls from attending school.

“Our mandate is to donate at least 500 packets of pads to 500 girls every month and we are asking for donations,” said Delight Mukozho from WeCareZim.

WeCareZim has launched an ambitious project to ensure that girls have access to sanitary wear.

Recently there was heated debate in Parliament after Chitungwiza junior councillor Natallie Machano called on the government to prioritise the distribution of pads rather than provision of condoms in schools. She said in some areas, girls were missing school because they did not have sanitary wear.

“They will only go back to school after their periods. If government cannot completely provide sanitary wear in schools, it should at least subsidise by, say, 50%,” she said.

Earlier this year, Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa was taken through some basic sanitary wear lessons by female members in Parliament.

“The challenge is simple: 1 pack of pads costs 95c. Therefore, we ask you to buy 1 pack or more and donate to the pads drive for disadvantaged girls in the country’s rural areas,” Mukozho explained.

Last year a local company, My Pads and Pearls, Heels and Dreams, launched a new line of reusable sanitary wear which the girls reuse after washing.

Independent surveys which the organisation carried out revealed that 45% of girls used cloth, 19% use cotton wool, 18% could afford pads while the other 3% relied on newspapers, tree leaves and barks.

The reusable pad is made of three layers of soft, absorbent fabric backed with a quality water-proof material to prevent leakages and are changed every five hours or so depending on the menstrual flow. The company director, Jenny Wall, said while they acknowledged that some areas of the country had inadequate water supply to wash re-usable pads, research had shown that as much as 70% of the population were using cloth. “These cloths that girls are using are unhygienic – they have been used for years and years and are often shared with other family members,” she said.