IR launch sanitary pad campaign
By: Shanaaz Ebrahim-Gire

IR launch sanitary pad campaign

By Shanaaz Ebrahim-Gire


Keeping in line with its’ mission to eradicate poverty and end human suffering, Islamic Relief South Africa (IRSA) launched a bold advocacy campaign on Women’s Day [9 August] to raise awareness about the struggles faced by girls and young women due to the lack of sanitary pads.


The 12 for 1 campaign – which will run until the end of September – aims to collect and distribute 12,000 packs of sanitary pads to 1,000 rights holder [beneficiaries]. The project also aims to address the negative perceptions around female personal hygiene.


For many girls from impoverished backgrounds, the onset of puberty marks a sharp decline in school attendance and could lead to their dropping out of school completely. One of the reasons for this high dropout rate can be attributed to the lack of sanitary protection and the lack of knowledge around puberty.


Approximately 2.1 million girls - between the ages of 12 and 18 - live below the poverty line in South Africa and cannot afford sanitary towels. These girls miss up to 60 days of school a year.


“We must recognise that poverty is structural and young women are disproportionately affected– through various systems of oppression. One of the crudest manifestations of this is the limited access to sanitary pads for women,” Islamic Relief’s Project Coordinator, Fazlin Fransman explained.


Because they are unable to afford sanitary protection, Fransman said, 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.


“The availability of pads and the costs attached to it should be treated as a public health emergency. In South Africa, women spend up to R40 for a pack of 10 sanitary pads. In an household earning less than R3,000 this is too expensive and are often seen as a luxury item.”

“Our research has found that girls and young women are often forced to find alternatives means for sanitary hygiene such as leaves, sand and even newspapers. Other products available include towelling pads which can be rewashed…but in some cases this too is too expensive and in areas where water is not readily available, young women will not have any means to wash their soiled sanitary towels.”

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