The Zimbabwean Government Should Provide Free Sanitary Wear for Girls in Schools
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March; is recognised as the Women’s Month. We know that many events will be planned to celebrate women and girls in Zimbabwe. We appreciate that. However, we would appreciate more if this year, rather than mere events; the focus shifts to addressing one fundamental issue that is pivotal to our 'womanness' yet a source of misery for many girls and women- specifically those from low income communities.
Support for every Girls' BASIC NEED: Provide Free Sanitary Wear in Schools.
• Taking into account that 1 in 10 girls in Africa (including in Zimbabwe) will miss school during their period and eventually drop out of school due to lack of sanitary pads;
• Alarmed that girls in Zimbabwe can miss up to four days of school every month and that this can negatively affect their performance at school
• Concerned that school girls from poor communities are forced to improvise and use other material from unprocessed cotton, tissue paper, newspapers, leaves, rags, maize cobs, to cow dung.
• Taking into account that improvised options for sanitary pads may pose health risks like itchiness, vaginal infections.
• Further concerned that lack of sanitary pads exposes girls to sexual harassment and abuse as they are forced to engage in transactional sex with multiple partners (which exposes them to teenage pregnancies, STIs, HIV infection); in a bid to raise enough money for pads
• Taking into account that an average Zimbabwean girl will need 4 dollars every month for a decent packet of sanitary pads; failure of which will affect her self esteem and school performance as her life will be constantly filled with fear and anxiety. Girls who stain their skirts are often stigmatized, and ostracized for being filthy and dirty. Hence failure to support girls through provision of Free Sanitary wear means girls have to endure a life of misery, forcing them to skip school.
We, the people of Zimbabwe join the Pepeta Africa network of young SRHR activists in SADC; and Katswe Sistahood; and
• Declare that no girl should miss school because of her menstrual periods; and
• Call on the Government of Zimbabwe to allocate resources, and make accessible free quality sanitary wear available in schools, prisons and public places: the same way we have tissue paper as a Public Health requirement in toilets.
• Urge the Zimbabwean Government to provide “girl-friendly” sanitation facilities in schools to ensure menstrual hygiene management.
• Appeal to the Zimbabwe Government to stop taxing sanitary products as a luxury good;
• Zimbabwe is Open for Business: and we implore Government to ensure that Companies operating in Zimbabwe- new and old, embrace Gender Sensitive Social Cooperate Responsibility Policies, and partner schools and communities through provision of Menstrual Hygiene products and services, including Provision of Free Sanitary Wear for Girls in schools based in the communities they serve.
We believe that addressing girls’ menstrual management needs will help our Girls stay in school, build their confidence, and improve their health and wellbeing, enabling them to make positive contributions in their communities.
Confident young girls make empowered women. Empowered women make good leaders, propel their families out of poverty, and create stronger communities.
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