Sanitary pads should be free just like condoms because it is a necessity
A project to educate and create awareness among hundreds of secondary school girls and boys on Menstrual Hygiene Management and Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, ‘My Period is Awesome’ was launched this week.
The project was launched by Women’s Action for Development (WAD) and the Wise Economy Global Association, through Forum Syd in Sweden. A total of N$1 million was donated to the project, to reach and educate 600 girls and 100 boys in the first phase and then to extend the initiative in phases.
Presenters at the launch emphasised that both the girl child and the boy child should be included in the discussions on menstrual health, since it is generally agreed that a change in attitude can only be achieved where both genders accept responsibility for reproductive health.
There was also universal agreement that menstrual hygiene and reproductive health are still taboo subject, widely stigmatized through ignorance and bashfullness. “People are ashamed to speak about it, which makes it difficult for the topic to be de-stigmatized and to be normalised like it should be.”
“Education should start at home with both the mother and father talking openly about these topics. It is only later that lawmakers and policy-makers enter the educational picture for these sensitive topics.”
At the launch it was also suggested that sanitary products should be made tax free or even be free of charge, just like condoms are free, because they are a necessity.
According to WAD, many poor school girls miss several days of school each month, or drop out of school altogether, due to insufficient sanitary solutions.
“Therefore a unique aspect of the project is that it introduces a more durable and more cost effective alternative to menstruating school girls, in form of the menstrual cup, which has numerous other advantages for school girls, pending the approval of the Ministry of Health and Social Services,” the NGO added.
Speakers at the launch included Juliet Kavetuna, Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, Sanet Steenkamp, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, Veronica De Klerk, retired WAD Executive Director, Carin Lann, Director of Wise Economy Global Association, Sweden, Her Excellency, Ambassador Cecilia Julin, Swedish Ambassador.
Meanwhile, Sue Barnes, Managing Director of Project Dignity, South Africa and Thulani Velebayi, Regional Senior Trainer: Child Rights and Positive Parenting at Sonke Gender Justice South Africa, will be responsible for training educators on the project and how to talk to learners about the subjects.