WHile some countries are moving towards a policy of offering free sanitary pads in primary schools, back home the initiative is in selected pilot schools as part of pro bono projects by some non-state actors.
Three Bulawayo primary schools; Mthombowesizwe, Manyewu and Ntabeni have been selected as beneficiaries of the Sanitary Pads Movement a�� an initiative of football luminary Cosmas a�?Tsanoa�? Zulu.
For Zulu, it all began at home when he realised that his 11-year-old granddaughter was at that puberty stage where the a�?womanhooda�? cycle starts.
a�?I was surprised to learn that my granddaughter aged 11 had started her monthly periods so I thought of those children from under-privileged families,a�? said Zulu.
Zulu known socially for his comical side at times combines humour with sense. He drew parallels to the policy of free condoms.
a�?If there are free condoms in male toilets, why not have free sanitary pads in womena��s toilets as well,a�? said Zulu.
Zulu partnered with five passionate colleagues namely Marshal Chiza, Lawrence Phiri, Marcia Tfenge and Nhlalo Ncube that wish to see the dream come true.
a�?We hope this movement will spread to primary and secondary schools countrywide. Ita��s about health, confidence and education of the girl child. They should not use inappropriate blood soaking materials which may be contaminated thereby exposing them to infections,a�? he said.
Most households survive on less that $5 a day, according to statistics from Zimstats, as such numerous households do n0t even buy toilet paper, what of sanitary pads?
a�?Some childrena��s families cana��t afford sanitary ware. The distribution will increase confidence and improve their performance at school as it affects concentration when a child has to worry about something as small and as natural as a period,a�? said one of the MthombowesizweA� teachers.
Member of Parliament for Emakhandeni-Entumbane constituency Dingilizwe TshumaA� wishes the program could spread beyond his constituency.
a�?We want to see it spreading to all primary and secondary schools,a�? he said.
The junior councillor for the area, Thabisile Nyathi (16) said the issue of menstrual cycle disturbances is more serious than most people realise. As a peer educator and a�?legala�? representative of the youth in the area, and being a girl she has a bright idea.
a�?Ten cents is a small amount of money, therefore, we must sell the vision to schools. We have to contribute small tokens to make pads available,a�? said Jr Cllr Nyathi.
The ball has been set rolling all that the project needs is a buy in from everyone with capacity to make it come true.