In South Africa, women face enormous difficulties and have been subjected to structural disadvantages in society. In addition to this, many women and girls do not have access to the sanitary products they need each month. Due to the high costs of sanitary items, some women must choose between buying food or pads, and often food is given the priority ultimately leading to period poverty.
Period poverty is a severe set-back for women empowerment because without sanitary products, many women are unable to go to work and girls are forced to stay absent from school. It is estimated that up to 7 million school girls in South Africa cannot afford sanitary pads and about 30% do not attend school while menstruating. As more girls miss school while menstruating, it is more difficult for them to learn. With limited education, there are fewer opportunities to lift themselves and their communities out of poverty.
During Women’s Month, The Umvoto Foundation (TUF), in collaboration with Umvoto Africa ran a sanitary drive at our offices in Muizenberg to support the ladies in Griffiths Mxenge, Khayelitsha. This was in partnership with Busiswa and the Indawo, Abantu, Injongo, eKhayelitsha initiative. The donations included sanitary pads, face cloths, toothbrushes, toothpastes, deodorants, and soaps. We also received generous donations from Checkers Muizenberg to the value of R2 000 as well as 100 packs of sanitary pads from React Group. All donations totalled to 50 gift bags, consisting one of each item. The gift bags were then handed over to Busiswa who then distributed them to the youth group of the United Methodist Church of Southern Africa in Khayelitsha, as well as to community members of the Griffiths Mxenge community.
Our long-standing partnership with the Indawo, Abantu, Injongo eKhayelitsha group continues to grow and make progress in the community of Khayelitsha. Whilst ending period poverty will require a monumental effort, TUF, along with Busiswa, took the necessary steps that will undoubtedly ease the burden for some schoolgirls in Khayelitsha that they are forced to endure each month.