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 — an initiative of football luminary Cosmas “Tsano” Zulu.
For Zulu, it all began at home when he realised that his 11-year-old granddaughter was at that puberty stage where the “womanhood” cycle starts.
“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,” said Zulu.
Zulu known socially for his comical side at times combines humour with sense. He drew parallels to the policy of free condoms.
“If there are free condoms in male toilets, why not have free sanitary pads in women’s toilets as well,” 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.
“We hope this movement will spread to primary and secondary schools countrywide. It’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,” 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?
“Some children’s families can’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,” said one of the Mthombowesizwe teachers.
Member of Parliament for Emakhandeni-Entumbane constituency Dingilizwe Tshuma wishes the program could spread beyond his constituency.
“We want to see it spreading to all primary and secondary schools,” 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 “legal” representative of the youth in the area, and being a girl she has a bright idea.
“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,” 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.