San­i­tary towel cam­paign to ben­e­fit 10 000 N Cape pupils

Diamond Fields Advertiser - - NEWS - NORMA WILDENBOER STAFF RE­PORTER

A SAN­I­TARY towel cam­paign, set to ben­e­fit nearly 10 000 pupils in 72 ru­ral schools in the John Taolo Gaet­sewe Dis­trict, was launched in Kathu yes­ter­day.

The MEC for Ed­u­ca­tion, Martha Bartlett, who launched the JTG San­i­tary Towel Drive Cam­paign, said that for many girls from im­pov­er­ished back­grounds the on­set of pu­berty marked a sharp de­cline in school at­ten­dance and could even lead to pupils drop­ping out of school com­pletely.

One of the rea­sons for this high drop-out rate is the lack of san­i­tary pro­tec­tion and lack of knowl­edge around pu­berty.

“As they are un­able to af­ford san­i­tary pro­tec­tion and they don’t un­der­stand what is hap­pen­ing to their bod­ies, what should be a cel­e­bra­tion of wom­an­hood be­comes a time of shame, em­bar­rass­ment and stig­ma­ti­sa­tion with dire con­se­quences for the girls’ ed­u­ca­tion and con­se­quently their fu­tures,” Bartlett said.

Ac­cord­ing to re­search, a lack of ac­cess to san­i­tary tow­els of­ten re­sults in young women from poorer back­grounds be­ing ab­sent from school or ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the loss of hu­man dig­nity be­cause of hav­ing no choice but to use old news­pa­pers or cloths.

Young women in Africa have been re­ported as be­ing ab­sent from school for a pe­riod of at least four days per month; this num­ber can to­tal up to ap­prox­i­mately 24 weeks out of 144 weeks in a four-year pe­riod of high school.

In some in­stances, these young women suf­fer from stress and de­pres­sion as a re­sult of fear of stain­ing their clothes.

“Dur­ing the san­i­tary towel cam­paign, em­ploy­ees of the De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion are kindly re­quested to do­nate san­i­tary tow­els vol­un­tar­ily on a monthly ba­sis. This cam­paign has gained mo­men­tum over the years and saw a num­ber pri­vate com­pa­nies and in­sti­tu­tions from the pri­vate sec­tor join­ing this ini­tia­tive,” said Bartlett.

“We wish to thank Kumba Mine in part­ner­ship with Khu­mani Mine, Sishen So­lar Fa­cil­ity, Kathu So­lar Park and Kele­bogile Trust for their sup­port to­wards this cam­paign to do­nate san­i­tary tow­els to 72 ru­ral schools in the John Taolo Gaet­sewe Dis­trict. This ini­tia­tive will ben­e­fit 9 400 fe­male pupils monthly over a pe­riod of 12 months.”

Bartlett added that the cam­paign was not just about sup­ply­ing san­i­tary tow­els to young women, but was about mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant lifechang­ing dif­fer­ences.

“The san­i­tary tow­els do not only en­able girls to at­tend class reg­u­larly, the ef­fect is greater in the sense that this im­proves on the gov­ern­ment’s goal of mak­ing ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion sim­pler and even­tu­ally en­sur­ing bet­ter eco­nomic ex­po­sure for young women,” Bartlett con­cluded.

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