Helping teenage girls fight menstrual poverty

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Research by Global Citizen and the World Bank shows that an estimated 3.7 million girls in South Africa cannot afford sanitary pads.

Most women and teenage girls go through menstrual poverty and Lindiwe Nkuna, founder and CEO of Lindiwe Sanitary Pads, provides ways ordinary citizens can help these young women.

After Grade 7 and 12 learners headed back to school in the second week of June, some of them have more on their plates than catching up to do in the academic year. Research by Global Citizen shows that an estimated 3.7 million girls in South Africa cannot afford sanitary pads and according to the World Bank, proper menstrual hygiene enables women and adolescent girls to reach their full potential.

According to Nkuna, poor menstrual hygiene management has been shown to result in a sense of shame, anxiety, and embarrassment that contributes to absenteeism and poor performance at school. A packet of pads in South Africa costs an average of R25. Typically, a girl goes on her period for seven days a month, which means each month she must have a minimum of two packets of pads and that costs R50 per month. A lot of young girls enter a new menstrual cycle every month without really knowing when and how they will get their next pad.

This uncertainty can immensely hamper the confidence and progress of a girl child, who, like her male counterpart, has an unequivocal right to access education, but is often relegated to staying at home because of something as natural and consistent as her period.

However, an ordinary South African can help fight menstrual poverty in these five following ways:q Donate sanitary towels, even if it is just one packet, to a non-governmental organisation or any organisation that runs pad drive campaigns, such as Lindiwe Sanitary Pad’s #1976girls, which aims at manufacturing and donating pads to 1 976 school girls across the country, and other similar initiatives.

  • You can adopt a girl child and sponsor them with monthly menstrual hygiene products
  • Raising awareness within your circles about those in need as this will help reach potential donors/sponsors and maybe have anonymous pad drop-offs and pick up points to allow access for those in need
  • Liaise with menstrual hygiene product manufacturers, such as Lindiwe Sanitary Pads, for affordable bulk buying
  • Educating young and vulnerable women on the importance of menstrual hygiene and how to go about achieving it, which includes how to properly use pads and other sanitary products.

For more information: www.lindiwepads.co.za

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