Brenda Zinyuke, Chronicle Reporter
PRIMARY and secondary school girls are set to receive free sanitary wear starting January 2020 with Government setting aside $200 million towards such provision.
Presenting his 2020 National Budget Statement in Parliament yesterday, the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube, said the intervention would begin with rural primary and secondary learners from Grade Four up to Upper Six who are less privileged.
“This budget responds comprehensively to the plight of the girl-child in enhancing their dignity. In anticipation of the finalisation of the Education Act, the budget is required to have a provision for the supply of sanitary wear for female learners,” he said.
“Based on equity consideration, the proposal is to begin with rural primary and secondary learners from Grade 4 to Upper Sixth form and a provision of $200 million has been made under this budget.”
Prof Ncube said the move was meant to enhance the dignity of the girl-child following widespread concerns that some of the girls were resorting to using unhygienic means during their monthly cycle.
“Due to unaffordable sanitary wear, a majority of vulnerable women and girls had resorted to use of unhygienic materials that expose them to health-related problems,” said the Minister.
To buttress the support, he said, Government would exempt from duty imports of sanitary wear by a further 12 months, with effect from January 1, 2020.
“Government exempted imports of sanitary wear from customs duty and VAT for a period of 12 months, taking into account the need for local industry to recuperate, thereby improving supply of sanitary wear at competitive prices,” said Prof Ncube.
“However, the local industry continues to face production constraints, hence I propose to extend duty exemption on sanitary wear by a further 12 months, with effect from 1 January 2020.”
The import duty waiver also covers sanitary cups and pants, said the Minister. With prices of sanitary wear going up every now and then, some girls had resorted to using contraceptives to avoid their periods as they cannot afford to buy sanitary wear. This poses risks to young girls as it affects their reproductive health system. In the past few months, sanitary wear prices have been ranging from ZWL$10 to ZWL$20 in most supermarkets.
Organisations like the Menstrual Health Specialists Trust have come on board to make sure vulnerable women and girls of Zimbabwe were provided with safe, affordable, sustainable and eco-friendly sanitary wear. The trust has since introduced menstrual cups that can be used for up to 10 years and period pants that hold up to two tampons worth of menstrual blood.
These are washable and reusable for up to two years. — @zinyuke98