Rural communities need to produce reusable sanitary pads at grassroot level in order to alleviate the shortage of sanitary wear among girls, a legislator has suggested.
Speaking during an advocacy awareness conference organised by Masakhaneni Trust on promoting safe education spaces for the rural girl child, Thursday, Luveve Member of Parliament Stella Ndlovu said it was time for communities to take up the issue of ending sanitary wear poverty amongst girls as the government was taking long to implement it.
“The issue of sanitary wear is a hot potato in parliament. I suggest we lobby for community members who will be sewing reusable pads for rural girls.
“If we say the government should do it, they will take long to implement. These women would be employed. We need closure to this issue,” said Ndlovu.
Ndlovu was reacting to testimonies by parents at the conference who revealed that most young girls in their communities were dating older men for money to buy sanitary wear.
Patrick Ndlovu, a village head at Nyandeni in Gwanda said most parents did not provide sanitary wear for their girl children, which was a cause of concern.
“Girl children do not only want money to buy jiggies, they need to buy sanitary wear. Parents especially in rural areas do not bother buying pads for their children. Girls end up using cloths that would be lying around in homes. They have needs during their menstrual cycle.
“That is why they end up dating herd boys who will give them money for pads,” he highlighted.
Another concerned parent, Mbedzi Ngwenya from Gwanda said dating men with money was the only option for girls as the government could not provide free sanitary wear for girls.
“The government can pay for BEAM but do not provide for other girl child necessities such as sanitary pads. The girl child cannot do anything about periods because nature is nature.
“The easiest way for them to get money for buying pads is dating working class males, in this case herd boys, which is the worst disadvantage for them,” said Ngwenya
Access to sanitary wear remains a huge challenge in Zimbabwe with many women resorting to unorthodox methods during their menstrual cycles. Rural girls are the most affected and they miss out on school every month to attend to the process.