Poor girls use newspapers, cowdung as pads during menstruation

The Zimbabwean

Written by Wallace Mawire
Sunday, 19 December 2010 08:59

HARARE –¬† A shocking report by the Integrated Sustainable Livelihoods (ISL) has revealed that due to lack of resources, some young girls in Zimbabwe are using pieces of cloth, newspapers, cow dung and tissues as sanitary ware during their monthly menstruation.

The report was released by Lifa Methie, Director of the ISL in Zimbabwe. ISL is collaborating with the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development in an effort to improve the reproductive health of marginalised women through provision of re-usable sanitary pads which are safe alternatives to what the girls are currently using.

Risitseng Rukasha, Projects Officer for the sanitary pads project, said buying pads was considered a less priority by the vulnerable and poor populations who were more concerned about putting food on the table. “During this period, they not only experience the characteristic abdominal pain and mood alterations, but also have to be absent from school for fear of odours emanating from newspapers and rags they use to contain their menstrual flow,” says Rukasha.

An average pack of sanitary pads costs US$2 and this implies that a family with four girls needs US$8, which is normally beyond the reach of poor households. Rukasha added that even female students were finding it a challenge to afford sanitary ware. According to ISL, the average woman will use 16 800 pads or tampons in her lifetime. The organisation has also dispelled the myth that menstruation is a sickness but a natural physical process. It said that women’s blood was not diseased and dirty but it was just a harmless by-product of a biological event.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.