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Schools should provide free sanitary pads

Hudson Park High School pupils donated over 1 000 sanitary pads last year.
Hudson Park High School pupils donated over 1 000 sanitary pads last year.
Image: Supplied

It has become an inevitable nationwide obligation to raise funds for the donation of sanitary pads to young girls. This is a commendable gesture because no girl should miss a class due to the lack of pads.

In the same breath, this may be a clear indication that there is a serious need for pads to be distributed for free by the government. A menstrual cycle is a natural phenomenon that needs to be countered with sanitary pads so that no girl child gets disturbed by something she can’t control.

Having to go up and down every day trying to help young girls who can’t afford sanitary pads becomes a mammoth struggle, so a permanent solution should be introduced. While I commend government for not imposing tax on sanitary towels, I strongly believe it can still do more.

Access to sanitary pads should be declared a human right, just like water and sanitation. Of course this will come at a cost but government cannot get tired of providing services when nature takes its toll. Government has been able to distribute condoms to all members of the public, and such is executed timeously with distinction.

Condoms are necessary for the fight against unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. The same responsibility should be extended to sanitary pads, thus saving these vulnerable girls.

When Covid-19 landed on our shores, a relief grant of R350 was distributed to those who were severely affected.

The introduction of feeding schemes in schools was done as a measure to tackle another natural tragedy, hunger, and that intervention changed many lives. Had government chosen to do nothing, the situation would have been much worse.

These are just some of the reasons I am urging government to consider distributing sanitary pads in schools to help young girls face the future with confidence.

Children who depend on the school nutrition programme to face their lessons are automatic potential beneficiaries of sanitary towels. Poverty should not stand in the way of those who have the hunger and passion to chase their dreams.

May government departments come together and forge a relationship that will benefit our younger sisters, thus restoring their dignity and self-esteem.

Malphia Honwane, Gottenburg, Mpumalanga

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