Minister in the presidency for women, youth and persons with disabilities Maite Nkoana-Mashabane recently announced that the department is set on providing free sanitary products to vulnerable menstruators in poor communities.
This sort of development has been in government speeches as early as 2011, where it was established that it is “imperative that government advance and promote women’s rights to dignity”.
The African News Agency (ANA) reported that the decision to do this was revealed at a virtual mini-plenary of the national assembly in which the ministry’s budget had been prioritised.
“On our part, the department of women, youth and persons with disabilities has contributed to the Covid-19 response plan with a particular focus on mitigating the negative impact of the pandemic on women, youth and persons with disabilities.
“The department has also partnered with the department of social development, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and WaterAid to ensure menstrual hygiene management is accessible to vulnerable women and girls.”
A collective called Team Free Sanitary Pads welcomed this announcement stating that “this is a step in the right direction in all our collective efforts as well as activism to ensure sanitary products are free for all women and young girls including all menstruators”. They have been petitioning for the free allocation of sanitary pads nationwide.
“We feel more needs to be done in ensuring proper governance as well as oversight is implemented through enactment of menstrual rights into law,” they added.
“Let’s continue our menstrual health activism by putting more pressure on the South African government to do more, with regards to legislating menstrual health and hygiene management,” Team Free Sanitary Pads said.
Nkoana-Mashabane also urged communities to band together against gender-based violence, saying the fight against it is “bigger than the government”.
This comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa condemned a "surge in murders of women and children" in June as cases increased under level 3 lockdown.