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Menstrual Health: A Nightmare For Zim Women, Girls

The current economic situation prevailing in the country has forced every aspect of life to take a downward trend.

However, women and girls, especially those from rural set ups are the most affected crop in these economic trying times health wise, worse still when they get to their menstruation period.

Menstrual period has become a nightmare for young women and girls especially from rural set ups who have to endure making do with alternatives for their flow.

A survey by this publication revealed that rural girls have to make do with things such as cow dung, leaves and rags among other things, owing to the worsening economic situation that has made proper sanitary wear beyond the reach of many.

Health experts have however condemned use of these alternatives  for health reasons.

During the commemoration of the Menstrual Health Day recently, women leaders from various organisations called on the government to ensure sanitary wear is accessible to all women and girls.

Speaking during the Menstrual Health Day commemorations, Padshopper coordinator, Hope Madzinga said young girls in rural areas were forced to  improvise in the process risking their health.

“They told us that they often experience problems of rashes, infections and sometimes life-long reproductive health issues because they are forced to improvise, only because they can not afford proper sanitary products,” said Madzinga.

Legislator and chairperson for the Parliamentary Committee on education, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga told stakeholders attending the gathering that menstrual health should be taken  as a human rights issue and push the government to address it.

“This is a human rights issue. If we think it’s important to give people food when there is hunger I don’t understand why we don’t think of providing sanitary wear to women who cannot afford  them,” she said during one of the parliamentary sessions, adding that Parliament was in negotiation with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) to allow the importation of sanitary products free of charge.

Plan International Zimbabwe Sexual Health and Reproductive Rights Manager Varaidzo Nyadenga addressing the panel during the Menstrual Health Day recently indicated that the same way the  government acted on reducing transport fares to RTGS $0, 50 should be also done with sanitary products.

“Government should make sure sanitary products are made available for free to girls the same way they introduced the ZUPCO free for all buses,” Nyadenga said.

Sanitary Wear Sanitary Aid Zimbabwe Trust Founder And executive director Theresa Nyava said the bleeding economy has had a negative impact on the pricing of sanitary wear and tampons.

Ernestine Paterson, director Butterfly Cup Company demonstrated how to use usable butterfly cup and the sanitary pants.

” A woman can release up to four teaspoons once  average every month. So this butterfly cup can hold up to three tampons and you can wear it up to 10 hours. you can also use the toilet whilst wearing it and it is reusable for up to 10 years,” said Paterson.

Paterson also added that since the world is moving to no plastic, it would be great if Zimbabweans embrace sanitary pants which can last up to six hours on normal flow with four layers of cloth and are reusable.

Most reusable menstrual pads are made to last for five years, but many women report that their pads have lasted much longer! Washable cloth pads are much more economical when compared to the cost of disposable products over your lifetime.

Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ) standards development manager, Romana Marunda  on the sidelines of a Menstrual Hygiene Day event,  said that the reduction of taxes on sanitary wear products is not enough as they should be made available for free.

“We have been advocating to the government and what they have done through the minister of finance is to reduce taxes on the importation of raw materials used to come up with sanitary products. But even though the taxes have been reduced, the sanitary products still come at a very high cost,” said Marunda.

Honorable Miriam Mushayi from Kuwadzana constituency demystified the notion that its only the rural girls and women that are finding the going tough in terms of accessing sanitary wear products,

“Rural women are not the only people failing to afford sanitary wear. Young girls from my constituency cannot even afford three meals a day, what more sanitary wear that’s going up daily due to inflation?” said Mushayi.

“As women and organisations dealing with menstrual health issues, we are advocating to the government that in-as-much as they have reduced tax on sanitary wear raw materials, we want them to move a gear up and make sure these are made available free of charge,” she said adding that, “If condoms are given for free in public spaces, why not give sanitary wear for free.”

Currently the prices of sanitary pads is ranging from RTGS$8-$16.

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