School girls intensify free pads fight

Minister Bathabile Dlamini vows to avail free pads for pupils. /Siyabulela Duda
Minister Bathabile Dlamini vows to avail free pads for pupils. /Siyabulela Duda

Girls in Mpumalanga urged minister in the presidency responsible for women Bathabile Dlamini to advocate for the selling of condoms and making sanitary pads free.

Speaking during yesterday's launch of the "sanitary dignity programme" in Piet Retief, Mpumalanga, grade 12 pupil Nomfundo Myeni of Ubuhle Buzile High School urged the government to prioritise making sanitary pads free, instead of condoms.

"We live in a SA where condoms are given for free and sanitary pads are sold. This is the 21st century, and girls reach puberty at a young age. I believe that sanitary pads should be for free and condoms sold because sex is a choice and menstruation comes natural," said Myeni.

Thousands of girls, mostly accompanied by their parents, received bags filled with sanitary pads.

Dlamini told Sowetan that the call by girls will give government space to talk to young women about how they should behave and how they should treat themselves.

"From here we are launching the programme in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape. By April all provinces will have budgets for this programme and young women will not have issues.

"About the call to sell condoms, what we know is that young girls are sexually active as well, which leads to sicknesses and pregnancies.

"Condoms are for prevention while pads will be now available in schools for girls' dignity to be restored," said Dlamini.

Mpumalanga premier Refilwe Mtsweni said the province had already budgeted and bought sanitary pads which would be distributed to girls in schools.

"As we speak our province has already bought piles of sanitary pads and we will be distributing them to our girls.

"Our children should now know that there will be no shaming for girls who meet their menstruation at schools.

"That will be a thing of the past," said Mtsweni.

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