In South Africa, many girls often face difficulties during their periods. The lack of provision and accessibility of sanitary towels can result in many missing out on school or being disadvantaged in other areas of their lives.
According to research, “it has been observed that adolescent girls struggling to buy female hygiene products must turn to rags, socks and even notebook paper”.
Many girls receive pads through their schools. The KwaZulu-Natal education department does this through an initiative where each learner is given a monthly supply of pads. So now what happens as schools are closed during the lockdown? What happens to girls’ access to the pad drives that assisted them? And what can be done about it?
DRUM speaks to Lindiwe Nkuna, founder of Lindiwe Sanitary Pads, who support and donations for children across the country shouldn’t end in lockdown.
Lindiwe Sanitary Pads is a 100% black-owned feminine hygiene brand specialising in pads and panty liners that was founded to provide an alternative to expensive sanitary products without compromising on quality.
“I started Lindiwe Sanitary Pads because I wanted to solve challenges that the people around me and I experience with regard to menstrual management and access to affordable quality pads,” Lindiwe says.
On 25 May, Lindiwe launched #1976Girls, an initiative to honour the youth of ’76 but also support girls in need. “The name was derived from wanting to honour the youth of 1976 during this year’s Youth Month and we thought what better way to do that than ensuring 1 976 girls have sanitary pads,” she explains.
“The plan is to take over from where the youth of 1976 left off. We believe that although the struggles of the past generation and the current generation differ, the fact of the matter is that both struggles were fighting the social injustices that hinder access to education to disadvantaged scholars,” she says.
“As Lindiwe Sanitary Pad, we are playing our part by making sure that as the schools open after a long lockdown and loss of income in families, girls who would otherwise miss school due to not having sanitary pads, do not miss school and as such level the ground for access to education for both girls and boys,” she adds.
“Part of our plan to achieve this is by raising awareness about the struggles of a girl child during their period. We are also making quality sanitary pads accessible to disadvantaged girls by raising funds to buy Lindiwe Sanitary Pads and give them to girl children that need them. It’s important to note that some girls are forced by financial circumstances to buy counterfeit sanitary pads that leak, break or roll as they walk or go about their daily activities.
“So, for us, the approach moved from just access to sanitary pads to access to quality and reliable sanitary pads. That is why we have made Lindiwe Sanitary Pads affordable for donors to buy quality sanitary pads on behalf of a girl child,” Lindiwe tells us.
Read more| Improving women’s menstrual health
“To get involved in the #1976 drive, people can buy Lindiwe Sanitary pads and we can distribute through the NPOs that we have identified, or the donor can give to a community or a charity of their choice. Beyond Youth Month, we are continuing with #1976 by running a campaign where we are appealing to members of communities to help us be accessible in their local communities, by negotiating with independent wholesalers, local pharmacies and filling stations to sell our brand. We are aiming to be in 1 976 independent wholesalers, local pharmacies and filling stations.
“This will assist young girls in townships, villages and small towns to have access to quality sanitary pads at their vicinity and at an affordable price. Moreover, it will also assist families to earn incomes because those who participate in these will earn a commission. This becomes a win-win situation and it can be a faster and easier route for people to recover from the economic effects of Covid-19,” she ends.