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A girl child is missing school because of unaffordable pads

As the prices of goods and services in Zimbabwe have been increasing on a daily basis, they now have a huge impact on the life of the girl child. Recently we celebrated the day of the girl child but the celebrations were not entirely joyful as the girl child is missing school in some parts of the country due to biological call of menstruation.

Sanitary pads are very expensive in Zimbabwe to the extent that even the girls and women in the cities and towns cannot afford them despite the government having suspended duty and scraped off value added tax (VAT) on them under statutory instruments 264 and 265 of 2018. The scrapping ofVAT was meant to promote their availability and the geral hygiene of women. According to the 2015 statistics 67% of rural women and girls used socks, rags, leaves, cow dung and newspapers to try and stem their menstrual flow, while 20% of school girls do not report to school because of fear of stigmatization by other people when they mess themselves up. With the current fall of the economy new statistics will inevitably show a sharp increase in the figures as parents and guardians cannot afford basic necessities for hygiene of girl child as there is limited access to money. SOLUTIONS Provision of pads for free The government should provide free sanitary towels to all school girls instead of just providing free condoms. It is of note that alcoholic drinks for example Chibuku or Ingwebu are cheaper than sanitary pads. As a result there is high consumption of these in the country. The government can increase taxes on them to generate funds for provision of free pads. Reusable Pads Reusable pads can also be made available in both cities/ towns and rural areas for free. Reusable pads are made from fleece, toweling and water proof material. Fleece has many advantages one of which is its softness. The genital area is very sensitive and the fleece material is so soft that it prevents rush from developing. The girl child must be taught that self-hygiene is very important when using reusable pads to avoid infections. They must be washed with warm water and washing powder or bar soap and be hung facing the sun and must be completely dry before being reused. Girls must be taught to have pride about their menstrual periods because that is what makes them girls. Every child has the right to education including the girl child and menstruation should not hinder them from school and having a better future.

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