Sanitary padding the political discourse

Mona Hakimi – Times Live via WomensNet – Thursday, 20 January, 2011 (originally published 16 Jam)

ONE STEP FORWARD: The sanitary towel campaign is a step forward for women's rights, but much more needs to be done. Image: Simon Mathebula

There is little doubt that making sanitary towels accessible to girls and women who cannot afford them would promote gender equality. The 28-day cycle that the majority of women go through is tied up with the cycle of poverty that affects millions of South Africans in everyday ways.

Without access to sanitary towels, a girl child in the SADC region may be excluded from her right to education. The Commonwealth Education Fund (CEF) and the Girl Child Network (GCN) have discovered that despite the provision of free schooling by the Kenyan government, more than 800,000 children (mostly girls) continue to forgo the opportunity of education.

According to 2010 research for the Freedom for Girls Project of the Health Education Africa Resource Team, when a girl is absent from school four days a month due to menses, she loses 13 learning days in every school term.

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