The need for Sanitary Pad and Hygiene Packs

Menstrual hygiene is not just a women’s issue but a societal issue. Given improper treatment, menstruation adversely impacts women and adolescent girls’ participation in economic and social life, thereby perpetuating gender inequality and disenfranchisement. A wealth of research indicates that girls/women without access to menstrual hygiene products: exhibit a few days of school absenteeism (rigorous research is required to verify an average number of absentee days); find it difficult to concentrate in class due to bodily discomfort; and resort to using unhygienic products (socks/rags), leading to a host of infections, bodily odour, pain and discomfort [1]. Despite the intrinsic value of sanitary pads, proper menstrual hygiene management (MHM) requires more than a sanitary pad. Studies indicate that many schools lack the necessary infrastructure to promote adequate (MHM) [2] – inadequate toilets and ablution facilities; insufficient or non-existent supply of soap, toilet rolls and refuse bins. There is a substantial amount of shame, fear, uneasiness, and embarrassment amongst girls in co-educational schools around the topic of menstruation. This points to the dire need of ensuring that girls are able to wash and change in the privacy of adequate ablution and toilet facilities. High consumer pricing is a direct limitation in accessing sanitary pads and hygiene products, whilst there is also a significant gap in MHM. In response to these challenges, WCMA aims to distribute sanitary and hygiene packs to schoolgirls and women in marginalised communities on an on-going basis. Beneficiary schools, on the whole, will benefit from the supply of hygiene consumables targeted at improving hygiene standards in ablution and toilet facilities. It is a truism that access to these necessities invariably contributes to healthier, empowered, and more sustainable communities.

[1] Okem A, Roma E and Wilmouth R. (n.d.) Menstrual hygiene managament practices in three high schools of eThekwini Municipality: An exploratory study.
Oxfam. (2016) Menstruation and menstrual hygiene management in selected KwaZulu Natal schools.
The Citizen. (2018) 30% of SA learners miss school when menstruating.
[2] Refer to footnote 1.