Sanitary towel campaign to benefit 10 000 N Cape pupils
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.