By Daniel Phiri
WOMEN’S Affairs, Gender and Community Development Ministry says it is has contracted two companies in the country to manufacture sanitary pads that will be distributed for free or sold at low cost.
Sanitary pads are a very critical component for women and girls reproductive health requirements but owing to their exorbitant cost, most are having to look for alternatives some of which could have after effects in the long run.
Rural women and girls are said to be the most affected to the extent that some of them go for as far as using leaves, animal hides or rags as sanitary pads. Speaking recently, Minister Nyasha Chikwinya said government recognises the importance of the sanitary ware to women’s health and was therefore working flat out to help ease the situation.
“We have two companies that we have actually contracted to produce sanitary towels for those young girls she is talking about for free. One of the other companies has said we are unable to do it for free because of budgetary constraints, but we can sell the sanitary towels for 50c down from $1 and we are still looking into that.
“When that happens I am urging Members of Parliament here, to be part of the program to ensure you reach out to schools and ensure that this program takes shape.
“I am sorry that I am unable to give the exact dates of when this will take shape because of the various economic situations companies are currently facing but I am sure that in the next week after having consulted the companies, I will give a definite answer,” she said.
Although Minister Chikwinya refused to disclose the names of the companies, there are only two companies in Zimbabwe that manufacture sanitary pad.
There is Refreshing Sanitary Pads which manufactures Happy Sky pads and Onsdale which manufacture Farai sanitary pads.
In previous interviews, Refreshing Sanitary Pads merchandising manager Collen Sakala revealed that sanitary ware is a bit costly because they important most of their raw materials from China and South Africa as they are not readily available.
According to Sakala, although they have benefited from Statutory Instrument 64 (SI64) which banned importation of certain products that the country has capacity to produce and also scrapping of duty on raw materials, the companies still face challenge in getting foreign currency to import raw materials.
Comment on the issue, outspoken Norton legislator Temba Mliswa questioned government’s priorities adding there was enough money to buy male condoms which are distributed for free yet there is no money to buy pads for girls and women.
“…the issue of the girl-child is critical and cannot be delayed any further. Government has got money to buy condoms which are available for free but sanitary wear is not available for free.
“Is it because of misplaced priority because condom money is there but sanitary wear money is not there? So, where are the priorities and it cannot be a money situation.
“…this is a serious matter that cannot be further delayed. These things must be here like yesterday, not tomorrow,” said Mliswa.