Talent Gore Herald Correspondent
Government has been urged to adopt systems that ensure effective utilisation of the 2020 sanitary wear budget to promote the menstrual health of girls in rural areas.
Girls in primary and secondary schools are set to receive free sanitary wear starting this month after Government budgeted $200 million.
In an interview with The Herald last week, Sanitary Aid Zimbabwe Trust (SAZ) director, Ms Theresa Nyava said the effective utilisation of the sanitary wear budget will help reduce “period poverty” that causes most girls in rural areas to miss school.
“We urge the Government through its responsible ministries such as Finance, Primary and Secondary Education as well as Health and Child Care to urgently set up a committee to come up with concrete modalities for the implementation of this programme,” she said.
“The price of sanitary wear is going up every now and then forcing some girls to resort to using contraceptives to avoid their periods.
“Sanitary pads are very expensive and some, especially in the rural areas, cannot afford to purchase pads, they end up using cow dung and this can cause cancer.”
She appealed to Treasury to release the allocated funds.
“Treasury is supposed to expeditiously release financial resources before the opening of the first school term to ensure that school girls won’t miss lessons due to lack of sanitary pads,” Ms Nyava said.
“It will also address issues to do with period shaming, as girls are often laughed at when they spoil their school uniform or the school chair, or when walking awkwardly due to use of improper and inconvenient menstrual absorbents such as rags, cow dung, you name it.
“Modalities should be agreed on through consultation with various menstrual care stakeholders and intended beneficiaries to understand the type of sanitary wear to be distributed.”
Ms Nyava said Government should implement educational programmes to train rural teachers and health officers on various sustainable sanitary wear options.
Presenting his 2020 National Budget Statement in Parliament in November, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube said the intervention would begin with rural pupils from Grade Four up to Form Six who are less-privileged.