High menstrual pads costs cause for rise in high school drop-outs among girls

Flora Fadzai Sibanda, [email protected]

Lack of affordable menstrual pads for learners has prompted serious concerns from civic society groups about the rise in high school drop-outs among girls.

A significant number of female students struggle to obtain sanitary pads, causing them to miss out on schooling during their menstrual cycle.

Ms Judith Sedange, founder of the Emancipate Yourself Foundation International, donated pads and underwear to 100 girls at Nkulumane High School in Bulawayo, and revealed how girls across Africa, including Zimbabwe, cannot afford sanitary pads due to the economic situation.

“Due to the economic situation that we are all aware of, sanitary pads are always the last thing on people’s grocery lists yet they’re one of the most important grocery items a person could ever get.

“That is why everyone needs to come together and help keep every girl child in school despite them being on monthly menstrual periods,” said Ms Sedange.

She said from the interactions she had with girls from Nkulumane High, it was shocking to learn how most of them were struggling to get enough pads each month.

According to the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), one out of 10 girls in Africa will quit school during their period while World Bank statistics show that girls miss about four days of schooling every month due to a lack of menstrual products.

A study by the Dutch Development Agency found that 72 percent of girls in rural primary schools in Zimbabwe who menstruate do not have access to sanitary pads.

Founder of Donate Pads Keep a Child in School Foundation, Ms Sibukile Dube, pointed out that most vulnerable girls are at risk of sexual harassment and acquiring sanitary pads through sexual exchanges.
Ms Dube called on the Government to provide all girls with free sanitary pads to ensure their safety and education.

“Our girls are at risk of sexual harassment and exchanging sexual intercourse for sanitary pads. This is very wrong and as a nation, we should be concerned because it means our girls are suffering for something that should easily be within their reach,” said Ms Dube. — @flora_sibanda

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