The majority of South African women (and men) endure hardships on a daily basis as a result of endemic social and economic challenges that perpetuate poverty and inequality. This landscape is slowly being transformed through state, business and civil society intervention. We, at WCMA, are passionate about contributing to this transformational process, specifically through interventions that empower women and girls, so that they may realise their full potential and effectively contribute to our country’s development.
One such intervention is the distribution of sanitary and hygiene packs to millions of South African marginalized girls that are trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty. Access to education is undeniably an effective tool to rise above the trappings of poverty. It is therefore inarguable that girls must be in a position to, at the very least, attend school regularly. A crucial enabling factor in this regard is adequate access to sanitary and hygiene products. Efforts by government, business and civil society in enhancing access to sanitary products, in particular, is commendable. However, a wealth of research indicates that the most marginalised communities of girls are yet to be impacted by these efforts. WCMA acknowledges the array of current sanitary pad, and menstrual health education campaigns. We find, however, that apart from the need for far greater and more sustainable distribution of sanitary pads, these products must be complemented with some basic hygiene products so that girls are better able to manage their menstrual cycles and ultimately restore dignity to this vital bodily function that is often considered inconvenient and shameful.