Rural girls receive free sanitary pads as most Zim girls use tree leaves during menstruation

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Vana VeZimbabwe (Vavez) has embarked on the distribution of sanitary wear to disadvantaged girls in Matabeleland South.

The director, Josh Nyapimbi, said the project was in response to a baseline survey carried out in selected schools last year that revealed that 98% of girls need help with sanitary wear.

"A survey in schools in Umzingwane and Umguza rural districts survey revealed that 52 percent of all schools had no doors on their latrines and 92 percent had no soap. This makes it very difficult for young girls to manage their menstrual periods," said Nyapimbi.

More than half of teenage girls in Zimbabwe do not have access to sanitary wear and use unhygienic alternatives such as leaves, a senior Government official said last month.

Women's Affairs, Gender and Community Development Deputy Minister Abigail Damasane said this at a ceremony to launch the International Menstruation Hygiene Day in Seke recently. She said 62 percent of young girls in rural areas use leaves or rags during menstruation, adding that 20 percent of girls miss lessons due to period pains.

"Girl children are failing Grade Seven because sometimes they do not come to school because of menstruation. They spend the whole process at home because they will shy when they spoil their uniforms," she said.

She urged churches and other organisations to establish clubs that assist these girls in making reusable sanitary wear to bring back confidence among the girls.

Adolescence and puberty are challenging development stages for girls in Zimbabwe particularly those in poor families or rural communities. The silence, stigma and taboos surrounding menstruation keep many young girls ignorant about how to handle menstruation.

Deputy Minister Damasane advised the girls to embrace the idea of reusable pads because they can make them by themselves.
 
"As a community let us work together to make our own pads for our children. Let us use these new products and spread this issue to the whole world because there are no miracles to stop this menstruation," she said.

Reusable pads are washable, affordable, portable and can be changed frequently. The reusable pads have already been introduced to four provinces namely, Masvingo, Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North and Midlands.

Unesco, the UN's educational, scientific and cultural body, estimates that one in 10 girls in Africa will miss school during their period and eventually drop out of school.


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