Women's Day- Focusing on access to sanitary ware

2015-08-07 13:21

Earlier I was thinking about how Women's Day coming up on the 9th will come and go with a lot of talk and activities surrounding the day...but at times with no sustained follow through on some pertinent issues affecting women.

Women's Day is a commemoration of 9 August 1956 when women participated in a national march petitioned against pass laws. These pass laws gave the government of the day complete control over the movement of black Africans. These laws did not just affect women, but all other people who were required to carry these passes.

When those women marched, they were not just protesting on their own behalf but for everyone else in the country. The same way these passes controlled movement, there are certain overt and covert passes which are at work in our society.

Women regardless of their race in South Africa (and the rest of the world) are faced with a different set of 'pass laws' which they have to grapple with. These passes restrict their movement to go to school, to access job opportunities, to access health care, to participate in decision making processes etc.

One often overlooked area where some women's movement is restricted in our society has to do with the impact of the lack of sanitary ware for those who can not afford. I will be first to admit that had it not been for an initiative a close friend of ours is involved in, this matter might have continued being under the radar.

I decided to write this article as a way of bringing to the fore this matter as a way of mobilising the nation to respond to this pressing need in our society...which often goes unnoticed. The same way those women marched on our behalf those many years back, let us also play a role in addressing matters which are affecting women (girls and adults) in our nation and continent.

According to this article "UNESCO estimates that one in 10 African adolescent girls in remote areas misses school during their menses and eventually drops out because of menstruation related issues. A girl absent from school for four days in 28 days (month) loses 13 learning days equivalent to two weeks of learning in every school term. In an academic year (nine months) a girl loses 39 learning days equivalent to six weeks of learning time. A girl  between grades 6 and 8 (three years) loses 18 learning weeks out of 108 weeks. Within four years of high school a girl can lose 156 learning days equivalent to almost 24 weeks out of 144 weeks of learning in high school."

As my way of commemorating Women's Day I will showcase three projects among many which are operating in South Africa with the aim of addressing the lack of access to sanitary-ware.

1) Ruremekedzo/Inhlonipho Underwear and Sanitary Ware Project.

The aim of the project is to provide new underwear and sanitary ware to underprivileged children who don't have access to these essentials. The organisation was recently involved in a drive to assist the foreign nationals who were displaced in KZN during the unrest which transpired.

How to get involved:

i. Like and share their page to get more people involved -

www.facebook.com/ruremekedzoproject  contact them on ruremekedzo.project@gmail.com

ii. Donations for  packs

You can donate new underwear, sanitary ware, toothbrushes, toothpastes, facecloths and/or soap

iii. Partnership

You can become their financial partner either on a monthly or annual basis

iv. Ambassadors

You can register with them to become an ambassador who will seek and collect donations on their behalf.

2) Dignity Dreams

Dignity Dreams was established in July 2013 with the aim to ensure every girl in South Africa gets access to safe and hygienic sanitary products. "Our goal is to help girls/women reclaim the dignity that poverty denies them and will enable girls to make a lasting and positive impact on the communities they live in and society as a whole."

Dignity Dreams reusable sanitary pads are a sustainable resource, allowing girls to wash and re-use them rather than having to buy non-reusable sanitary pads every month. In addition, they are inexpensive and environmentally friendly. Donations can be made on the organisation's home page.

3) Subz Washable Pads and Panties

Sue Barnes created Subz in response to a request for the donation of washable sanitary pads and panties for the under privileged girls in her area.

Subz are panties to which sanitary pads can be clipped. The panty is made of 100% cotton knit, (130 – 140g) which allows the skin to breath. This is also a eco-friendly/green solution. The organisation is open for donations.

May this Women's Day be one with a difference. Although this article focused on Sanitary Ware, think of other issues in which you can be involved in order to empower women in your community.

Happy Women's Day :)

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