Tuesday, December 6, 2022
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‘Give Women Free Sanitary Wear To End Period Poverty’

A local human rights defender has pleaded with the Zimbabwe Gender Commission to intervene and push government to address period poverty affecting women in Zimbabwe.

In a letter written to the Zimbabwe Gender Commission, Alice Kuvheya said the lack of free sanitary wear had disempowered and disenchanted girls across the country.

“Women in Zimbabwe are unable to afford sanitary wear and therefore are forced to adopt undignified and degrading mechanisms of managing their menstrual cycles. I will emphasize the gender disparities emerging from the lack of free sanitary wear in the country in contrast with the overwhelming availability of free contraceptives across the country part, particularly male condoms. Several reports have indicated that several girls continue to miss school due to the absence of sanitary wear.

“Women are now being exposed to serious health risks emanating from poor menstrual hygiene which can be attributed to a lack of access to adequate sanitary wear. This amounts to a violation of the rights of women and gender and social justice provided for by the constitution and international instruments that Zimbabwe subscribed to. Although detrimental to their reproductive health, the lack of access to free sanitary wear resulted in women in Zimbabwe making use of some of the following to manage their menstrual cycles,” she said.

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Kuvheya pleaded with the Commission to ensure that the government prioritizes free sanitary wear for all women in Zimbabwe as well as taking effective steps to ensure that menstrual hygiene products are accessible to all irrespective of their geographical location.

Zimbabwe’s 2020 Education Amendment Act offers free menstrual health kits in primary and secondary schools but to date not much has been done in terms of implementation as inconsistencies continue to surround the initiative.

Research has shown that failure to access menstrual hygiene materials such as tampons, and sanitary wear, among others, is leading to high school dropout rates, absenteeism, and low pass rates for many teenage girls, especially in rural communities and peri-urban areas where communities are the hardest hit by price increases of commodities.

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