COVID-19 fears push girl rights on renewable sanitary pads

By Nhau Mangirazi

As the COVID-19 fear grip the international community, local girl rights groups are stepping up efforts for renewable sanitary pads bank to keep them clean during the 35 day lockdown.

Shamwari YeMwanasikana research, communications and advocacy coordinator Louis Tatswareyi said they revived the 2018 renewable project for the girls’ sanitary pads bank.

He said, ‘In the wake of COVID-19, we had few pads in our bank. We launched pleas for pads so that we are able to assist more girls during and after this lockdown. We realized that girls had not been able to buy pads before the lockdown and this will be worse during the stay at home time. Since we launched the appeal we have managed to supply 1300 pads against a target of 15000 pads,’

Talent Jumo, director of Katswe Sistahood concurred that family income has been eroded by the lockdown coupled with the sudden hike of basic commodities.

‘Generally, women and girls are hit hard to buy sanitary ware. As much as we can work on our rights, we call upon the Government and partners to include sanitary wear in their relief packages to tackle period poverty,’ said Jumo.

Mucha Mukamuri executive director of Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) also noted that the lockdown is creating challenges for women and girls who are among the general poor populace.

‘Women and girls are battling to make ends meet and issues of sanitary wear have been a challenge. We hope sanitary wear will be easy to reach for majority of them during the lockdown period and afterwards,’ said Mukamuri,

Tatswareyi added that they launched the sanitary pads bank after receiving support from individuals and people from the United States of America and Japanese embassies in October last year.

‘‘The organization trains community development committee members on reusable sanitary pads donated to alleviate period poverty. We started reusable sanitary pads in 2018 that are environmental friendly as they can be used for more than a year and then be disposed unlike the other sanitary pads that are used once and then disposed,’ he explained.

Shamwari YeMwanasikana operates within Mashonaland East and Central provinces covering wards in Harare, Seke, Chitungwiza, Chihota, Murehwa, Chiredzi, Marondera and Mutoko among others.

Mukamuri further added that since most of women are fending for the families from hand to mouth and that has seen lockdown presenting challenges in acquiring sanitary pads.

‘The move for renewable sanitary pads will help out easing the tough situation we are going through as a nation,’’ concluded Mukamuri.

Health advocates have called on the Government to revamp the health sector so that it suits the fight against COVID-19 as well as giving adequate information regarding what people can do at home to avert a serious outbreak.