Women stage protest for free sanitary products

HARARE - Hundreds of women demonstrated in Harare yesterday to demand that the government hands out free sanitary products to those in need, the same way it does condoms.

They said women should have the same rights as men who have free access to condoms.

The “red stain free sanitary wear march” was organised by Katswe Sistahood.

Opposition legislator Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga (pictured) told the Daily News that government must be made  aware of the cost and challenges of accessing sanitary products for many girls and women from low-income households.

This comes after she tabled a motion in Parliament seeking to compel the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor John Mangudya to urgently capitalise Onsdale Enterprises, one of the country’s major sanitary wear manufacturers that  is on the verge of shutting down.

She said she was alarmed by the high cost of sanitary wear which has made it almost inaccessible to the majority of girls and women.

Misihairabwi-Mushonga, in her motion, called upon the Executive to immediately and urgently give a directive to the RBZ to provide the required foreign currency to the main producer of sanitary wear so as to avert the closure.

Onsdale, which makes the “Farai” brand of sanitary wear and toilet paper, among other comfort products, was set up in 2004 after a $2,3 million investment.

The industry imports as much as 75 percent of its raw materials.

She called on “traders to import sanitary wear duty free as a short-term solution.”

The MDC MP also said the Executive must allow the dispensation for duty-free importation of the material used to produce sanitary wear as provided for in the last national budget.

She told the Daily News yesterday: “In the 2016 National Budget, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said government would scrap duty on the importation of raw materials for the manufacture of pads. However, that did not happen. Weekly, the price of pads and other sanitary products continues to rise, leaving women with no option but to use unhealthy alternatives such as clothes and newspapers.”

The outspoken legislator also added that by providing free sanitary wear, government will prevent diseases such as cervical cancer.

“When we went short on foreign currency, government started capitalising certain industries. Government has not taken the problem of sanitary wear as a national issue to make sure that they prioritise it. When we talk of investment, it is surprising why no one wants to invest in sanitary wear considering that the market is readily available and established,” Misihairabwi-Mushonga said.

Director of Katswe Sistahood Talent Jumo said societal stigma around menstruation should stop as it is a natural occurrence for women.

She said the red stain campaign should demystify menstruation as most girls are shy of their natural flow.

“Government should commit to providing free sanitary wear the same way they do with condoms. Having sexual intercourse is a choice but menstruation is natural and cannot be controlled. Sanitary wear is not a luxury but a necessity,” Jumo said.

A Unesco report estimates that one in 10 girls in Sub-Saharan Africa miss school during their menstrual cycle because of a lack of sanitary products. The World Bank also claims that at least 20 percent of the schooling year is lost due to absenteeism because of the same problem.

    Comments (1)

    While we are all shouting that we want free stuff please also add in VIAGRA for those who need a little assistance in the heavy lifting dept when old John Thomas droops a little early on in the procedure !

    ace mukadota - 18 February 2018

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