Sanitary Pads Crisis Hit University Students

ZIMBABWE’S urban young girls feel cheated on the pricing and quality of sanitary pads being made in the country.

By Kudakwashe Pembere

This emerged at the launch of a Menstrual Health Promotion Campaign funded by the Swedish Embassy with the implementation done by Population Services International (PSI) Zimbabwe.

Contrary to popular belief stating how menstrual products are expensive to those living in the rural areas, young girls living in the urban areas also feel the pinch.

SayWhat Sexual Reproductive Health Rights advocate at the University of Zimbabwe Munashe Mhaka said university young girls are finding it hard to buy these pads.

Most people were saying the issue of the pads being expensive. I have noticed that even at university level its not only people in the rural areas who are thinking that pads are expensive or are facing problems buying pads.

“You find that other people have heavy flows like they can menstruate for five days. They don’t need one packet, it’s not enough. So if you are saying the minimum is ZW$10 and someone needs like five packs, it means they have to pump out ZW$50per month just for menstruating,” she said.

On the issue of quality, Mhaka revealed that there are sub-standard pads being made locally.

“So now people resort to the pads that are being made locally which are about ZW$5 or ZW$3. But you find out that these pads are not of good quality. You put them on your pant they stick and you can’t take them off. Or you find sometimes when you put them on your pant, they stick and the other part comes off like the cotton actually comes out of the outer package.

“You find that some people can afford to have two sets of pants, one for the menses and one for the normal time. People will use the same pants for menstruation and because they have been used before and they have been sticking these pads on them, these pads can leave chemicals.

“And now you are wearing that pant directly affecting your genitals leaving rashes. We should address the issue of not only providing pads but providing quality pads,” said Mhaka.

A 26 year old Susan Musonza said she finds sanitary wear expensive leading her to resort to cloths.

“Many women in Zimbabwe are having challenges in managing their menstrual health. I still am using cloths today because that is what is available to me. I cannot afford the money to buy these pads. This is a food for thought for Zimbabweans.

“If I still at 26 cannot afford pads, what about that girl in the periphery of the country. I live in Harare in the CBD where most people are expected to get the very best of their menstrual management tools.

“I think every girl in Zimbabwe deserves a kit on how they are going to be managing their menstrual health. A dignity kit for girls even at tertiary institutions, at high schools, at primary schools,” she said.

Menstrual health expert Mandy Tembo said she also learnt of the high cost of purchasing menstrual products.

“It’s unaffordable and inaccessible for women to get pads, reusable pads or even the menstrual cups,” she said.

She added that many communities are compromising the quality of pads to push volumes at less prices.

“That leads to girls having rashes from chemicals in the pad from the adhesive used for the pads. Even using methods or products that do not work as they shared, so reusable pads not certified by Standards Association of Zimbabwe and those products don’t work. So it reduces the woman’s self esteem.

“I definitely advocate not only for young women but definitely policy makers to make it affordable to make these products in country so that women can get quality products in Zimbabwe,” Tembo said.

In shops, the cheapest sanitary were costs about ZW$10 with others ranging in the ZW$30 range.


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