International Menstrual Hygiene Day commemorated on the 28th of May every year was initiated by German-based non-governmental organisation WASH United in 2014, to highlight the importance of good menstrual hygiene.
This year’s International Menstrual Hygiene Day ran under the theme, It’s time for action, which served as a call to everyone to act by considering the girls and women who are in need of sanitary ware.
For this year’s Menstrual Hygiene Day, Shamwari Yemwanasikana (SYS) with support from the Canadian Embassy in Zimbabwe donated reusable sanitary pads to young girls at Jonasi Primary School in Seke, Chitungwiza.
Men at SYS commemorated the day by sewing re-usable sanitary pads for the girls, who come from disadvantaged families and cannot afford to buy sanitary pads.
SYS director Ekenia Chifamba said apart from promoting menstrual hygiene, their decision to engage men to sew sanitary pads this year was a bid to harness positive masculinity, in line with the theme of inclusive action in helping girls and women in need.
Sanitary pads are now beyond reach for many parents, in the wake of high inflation in the country, forcing young girls to sometimes resort to unhygienic means every month. The more affordable sanitary pads currently range between RTGS$5-RTGS$6.
Jonasi Primary School teacher Judith Mhanda, said some girls miss school for up to five days during their monthly periods.
“Many girls here come from Seke rural and they cannot afford pads resulting in them missing school the whole week and missing out on vital lessons. Some have appealed to us seeking help but we cannot help them all, as we have 550 girls that are in need of these pads,” she said.
Re-usable pads have a life span of one and a half years, making them more cost-effective.
Chifamba called for the government to ensure that girls are provided with free sanitary wear at schools.
“…as an organisation which is centred around girls rights, we are calling the government to address this issue, we were elated last year when the Minister of Finance (Mthuli Ncube) announced it was going to scrap duty for sanitary ware and we are hoping that this can be enforced. If possible, even through the Ministry of Education to ensure that as part of providing education, we have the girls being provided with free pads. There is need to ensure that our girls are saved of shame and stigma during that time of the month,” she said.