Calls For Free Sanitary Pads Mount

CALLS for government to provide free sanitary pads for Zimbabwean young girls grow at a time they are still beyond the reach of many.

By Kudakwashe Pembere

Despite government announcing its plans to introduce this much needed initiative, organisations dealing with menstrual health feel much can be done to improve the lives of girls. 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 undesirable 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,cow dung, animal hides or rags as sanitary pads.  Touching Lives Foundation coordinator Ms Hope Mudangwe told HealthTimes on the sidelines of a Menstrual Hygiene Day Convention that the reduction of taxes on sanitary wear products was not enough as they should be made free.

“We have been advocating to the government and what they have done through the minister of finance is to reduce taxes on the importation of raw materials used to come up with sanitary products. But even though the taxes have been reduced, the sanitary products still come at a very high cost.

“And we are advocating as women and organisations dealing with menstrual health issues that inasmuch as you have gotten away with taxes we want these products to be given for free,” she said adding that, “If condoms are given for free in public spaces, why not give sanitary wear for free.”

Plan International Zimbabwe Sexual Health and Reproductive Rights Manager Ms Varaidzo Nyadenga addressing the convention indicated that the same way Government acted on reducing transport fares to ZWL$0, 50 should be done with sanitary pads.

“Government should make sure sanitary pads are made available for free to girls the same way they introduced the ZUPCO free for all buses,” she said.

Sanitary Wear Sanitary Aid Zimbabwe Trust Founder And Executive Director Theresa Nyava said the bleeding economy has impacted on the pricing of tampons.

“I believe that the theme for this year’s Menstrual Hygiene Day – It’s time for action – is more relevant to Zimbabwe as we have witnessed incidences of worsening period poverty over the past months, triggered by increases in prices of goods and services, with prices of sanitary products not being spared.

“Zimbabwe is currently witnessing the highest inflation rate since the beginning of the multicurrency environment in 2009 and more women and girls are failing to afford or access the much needed sanitary products, which are basic necessities to manage the natural biological process of menstruation,” she said.

Butterfly Cup Company director Enerstine Paterson said Government has a role to play in reducing period Poverty.

In Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Botswana started giving sanitary pads for free to girls with South Africa earmarking over ZAR2 billion to roll out the program.

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