Copper Rose Zambia (CRZ) has commended government for its decision to provide free sanitary napkins to girls in rural and peri urban schools in the 2017 national budget.
Natasha Salifyanji Kaoma who is Founder and CEO said the move was a clear demonstration of Government’s efforts to integrate matters of the girl child in its development agenda.
CRZ which is a group of young people advocating on matters of menstrual hygiene to ensure that there is a significant reduction in absenteeism in schools across five districts in the country.
Ms Kaoma noted that her organization has witnessed how girls use leaves, rugs, mattresses, and even mud to deal with their monthly menstrual periods.
She said a result of the challenge some girls have no choice but to miss school when they are attending their periods.
“These methods are incompatible with school attendance, leaving them with no choice but to miss about 39 days in every school year,” She observed.
She said her organization has distributed thousands of disposable sanitary napkins to schools and has started a small scale business model to get local women to produce and sell washable sanitary napkins to their communities.
She further called on government to engage stakeholders on how to make the distribution of free napkins sustainable.
“There have been a number of concerns from citizens and stakeholders concerning the sustainability of this free sanitary napkins distribution exercise, especially because there are very few companies that are locally producing sanitary napkins,” Ms Kaoma said.
She urged government to engage stakeholders on how to make the distribution sustainable and to engage more companies in production of sanitary napkins for the empowerment of its citizens.
Ms Kaoma observed that If the government decides to distribute disposable sanitary napkins, proper modalities for disposal such as incinerators should be installed along with the first consignment, ensuring that no new problems are created from this development.
“As the distribution of sanitary napkins is undertaken, government should look into the education of the recipients on matters of menstrual hygiene management.”
“ Because of social taboos, this subject is inadequately covered in the school curriculum hence the distribution should be coupled with thorough education of its recipients on menstrual hygiene practices including the proper use of these products considering that most of the girls will be using them for the very first time,” she said
Ms kaoma who is also a health practitioners perspective noted that improper use of the products may lead to an upsurge of vaginal infections and other negative health outcomes.