Pamela Shumba, Senior Reporter
PARLIAMENTARIANS have urged Government to consider providing sanitary wear in schools to spare school girls the challenges that they face in accessing the product.
Debating the Education Amendment Bill in Parliament last Thursday, legislators said the provision of sanitary wear in schools was important.
The chairperson of the committee on Primary and Secondary Education, Priscilla Misihairabwi Mushonga, said it has become impossible for girl children in schools to afford sanitary wear.
“We already have issues where children are not going to school because they do not have sanitary wear. I think it’s something that has become really urgent. For one to buy just a packet of cotton wool now you have to pay between RTG$10 to RTGS$12, and that is one packet that is used probably for a day or two.
“If one is going to have her menses for seven days, it means she’ll literally need a packet for every other day which adds up to RTGS$70. If we were to have it provided by the Government it would be the best news that people would hear today, particularly the young girls,” said MP Misihairambwi Mushonga.
Makoni North legislator, Francis Muchenje said the provision of sanitary wear in schools will go a long way in promoting hygiene in schools.
He said girls in rural areas are not enjoying their education because they do not have sanitary wear.
The MP said the school toilets do not have adequate water supply and if a child goes to school and uses a piece of cloth throughout the day, it has health implications.
“Also, the child is not free to engage in educational activities because she is scared of spoiling her uniform. Once that happens, she faces humiliation from her peers and that also affects their performance in class. So that is a difficult period for the girl child,” said MP Muchenje.
He said lack of access to sanitary wear was also forcing women to prevent menstrual cycles, which causes complications later in life.
“Therefore sanitary wear should be available in all schools, in fact to all women. Recently, I was at one of the community schools in my rural area. Most girls raised concern over the issue of satchels that they need but they said they needed sanitary wear the most to enable them enjoy their education,” MP Muchenje said.
Mutare Central MP, Innocent Gonese, commended the amendment which he described as progressive and said when it comes to issues of menstrual health, it’s not out of choice.
“It’s something that girls have no control over and there is an obligation on the State to ensure that girls have access to this. In the past we have had a situation where promises and undertakings have been made but they have not been fulfilled,” he said.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister Professor Paul Mavima, however, said the Government’s resources were limited.
“Resource limitation is not a situation that exists only in Zimbabwe. Even the richest country does not provide for all its citizens’ requirements. In this particular case, I am saying let us be pragmatic, let us make sure that as we look at the education sector, there are some things that we are saying can be obligatory now but pragmatically let us look at this and say as the resources become available, we can scale up,” said Prof Mavima. – @pamelashumba1