How female prisoners are helping girls to stay in school

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"The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) partnered with Old mutual to reduce the number of girls missing out on schooling due to menstruation."
"The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) partnered with Old mutual to reduce the number of girls missing out on schooling due to menstruation."

According to the Stellenbosch University (SU) Law clinic 30% of school girls in South Africa do not attend school during their menstruation period due to a lack of sanitary towels.

A project championed by the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), in partnership with Old Mutual, aims to reduce the number of girls missing out on schooling due to menstruation, by handing over dignity packs to underprivileged young girls in the Free State and Northern Cape.

Initially, when the project started, the aim was to provide young girls with these dignity packs annually, but due to the financial constraints in 2019, the project could not continue that year. 

Boxer shorts

In 2020 female offenders manufactured 1400 boxer shorts for young women, which were handed to seven management areas in the Free State and Northern Cape region.

In the keynote address the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Raymond Lamola detailed his visit in the Bizzah Makhate Management area in Free State and the Northern Cape to hand-over dignity packs – which include sanitary towels and the boxer shorts and underwear. Old Mutual donated 400 sanitary towels and material for the sewing of more boxer shorts, worth over R60 000.

The Provincial General and Manager, Silas Sebiloane, said that the donations would go a long way and ensure this initiative's sustainability and effectiveness, and it will uplift the young girls and the community at large.

Read: 'I use a sock as a sanitary pad'

Skills development 

The significance of this project is that it took place during the 16 Days of Activism for no violence against women and children - a worldwide campaign to oppose violence against women and children, Minister Lamola said.

A project like this reaches out to the underprivileged girls in our community, and "guarantees that the girl child's dignity is upheld, and their health is maintained with the supply of most basic amenities," Lamola noted.

The Department of Correctional Services is pleased by their inmates' involvement in sewing the boxer shorts that meet the South African Bureau of Standards, says the Minister.

This project will also help the inmates in terms of their skills development. He also took the opportunity to advise young girls to focus on their education and refrain from crime.

Last month Minister Lamola also visited various schools in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga, to hand over refurbished school desks, in another initiative which forms part of the Ministerial Corporate Social Investment (CSI) Programme from the Department of Correctional Services.

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