Committed to addressing the challenges that affect the health and well-being of women and girls, particularly in the poorest communities affected by multiple hardships, private higher education MANCOSA’s Centre for Women in Leadership (CWIL) donated sanitary wear packs to female students at Bhekikusasa High School in Empangeni, KwaZulu-Natal.
Period poverty, which refers to the lack of access to sanitary products and hygiene facilities to manage menstruation, remains a widespread issue in South Africa.
While the government eliminated the 15% value-added tax on menstrual products in 2019, which has contributed to making menstrual products more affordable and accessible, there are still many women and girls in South Africa who cannot afford to purchase sanitary products on a priority basis
The MANCOSA’s CWIL aims to be a leading institution promoting women’s leadership in Africa and beyond.
Since its inception in August 2015, the CWIL has embarked on a number of research, advocacy, training, networking and mentorship activities, and is also involved in several charitable causes and skills development programmes.
The lack of access to sanitary products can have a ripple effect on the entire population as this can set girls behind their male peers in classes and, therefore, deprive them of equal opportunities.
Professor Magnate Ntombela, principal of MANCOSA, said: “The joy on the learners’ faces when provided with much-needed support, is one of the most heart-warming experiences one can have.
“This is what happened at Bhekikusasa Secondary School when MANCOSA’s CWIL delivered over 300 sanitary wear packs to girl learners.
“I applaud this initiative because it removes a periodic hygiene worry for many learners and allows them to focus on their studies.”
Jabulile Diko, Director at MANCOSA, said: “It is when one is exposed to teenage girls and young women from underprivileged communities that one realises how prevalent missing school due to lack of sanitary pads during that time of the month still is. And whilst this is such a common occurrence, it is a topic that is rarely spoken about due to embarrassment, lack of understanding and generally the low priority of this issue in the face of lack of food, safety concerns and many other struggles faced by women on a daily basis in our country.
“Our objective at the CWIL through this donation was to ensure that the sanitary pad health issue is eliminated for young women at Bhekikusasa High School, and that they are able to stay at school and focus on the year-end examinations.”
Diko said that the fact that the reusable pads provided have a three-year lifespan and are environmentally friendly is a bonus.
The deputy principal of Bhekikusasa High School, Themba Dlamini, said he was grateful for the donation and that the sanitary packs would be a big help for the learners as previously, teachers would buy sanitary pads with their own money and keep them in the staff room for learners in immediate need whilst at school.
“Many girls would miss important schoolwork or not attend class because they were unable to purchase sanitary pads.
“The female learners are extremely happy and relieved that they do not have to miss any classes and thank the MANCOSA CWIL for the donation,” he said.