Reusable pads can last 5 years

A Soweto-born psychologist has started manufacturing reusable pads for underprivileged children in remote villages and townships.

Venessa Mogatusi said the idea came about when she was experiencing period pains in 2015.

"I thought of people who were not only going through pain like me but who didn't even have any supplies."

A year later, the product she named Proclaiming Affirming Dignity, also known as PAD, was born.

Mogatusi said her seamstress friend Busisiwe Ndlovu got involved and they worked on a colourful design to make girls feel comfortable while on their cycle.

"We went to remote areas and they were well received because a lot of them had no money for supplies."

She said elder women spoke about the challenges of their daughters not having access to sanitary products.

"We have heard stories about girls not going to school because of their menstruation."

The pads are made of cotton, fleece and a waterproof material to stop leakages.

Four reusable pads and a panty liner are sealed in a colourful bag girls can carry to school for privacy. The pad can last up to five years.

The pads need to be washed and hung to dry in the sun to kill germs but this has caused issues in patriarchal and traditional societies.

"Menstruation is still taboo in many rural areas. In the rural areas the washing line can be seen by the neighbours, there are just so many issues around a woman's cycle."

Mogatusi said one of their aims as a company was to eradicate shame when it comes to menstruation.

They have provided 40 girls from Botshabelo in the Free State with free packs worth R100 each.

Ahead of international Menstrual Hygiene (MH) Day on May 28, women from multiple countries held an online dialogue about issues related to menstruation in their countries.

SA activists said the main issues include a lack of sanitation and access to water that allows girls to keep hygienic during their cycles as well as the menstrual subject being taboo.

Other activists from countries such as Lesotho said they have similar issues including expensive sanitary products that people cannot afford despite the products not being taxed.

This has also caused an epidemic of girl children not going to school when they are on their period, which has also been seen in South Africa.

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