Patience Chisanga-Mayer calls for concerted efforts by the government, civil society and private sector in implementing free sanitary product access for all women and girls, as Zambia commemorates World Menstrual Hygiene Day.
Patience Chisanga-Mayer, the Co-Founder of Menstruation and Mentorship Matters, who is a 2015 Mandela Washington Fellow, and Global Shaper Alumni, under the World Economic Forum has called on the government, civil society organisations and the private sector to stop foot dragging on having open conversations around menstrual hygiene, sexual and reproductive health policies for adolescents and young adults.
Mrs. Mayer said that it is unacceptable that as the world commemorates World Menstrual Hygiene Day 2022 under the theme ‘making menstruation a normal fact of life by 2030’, over 40% of girls are reported to drop out of school with one of the reasons being inadequate provision of menstrual hygiene management products that do not allow all girls to attend school fully with dignity and comfort during their menstrual period.
“Period poverty is real in Zambia and Africa as a whole. Millions of young girls and women still do not have access to menstrual hygiene products or facilities for menstrual hygiene management, which is an impediment to women and girls in fully participating in economic and academic activity.” Says Patience Chisanga-Mayer, the 2021 Luanshya Member of Parliament losing candidate.
“As a country we forget that MHM contributes to school absenteeism and other gender disparities in Zambia. Can the government and all cooperating partners collaborate in ensuring that we rewrite our story and empower women and girls with consistent supply of free sanitary wear. Doing this will also help removing the stigma surrounding menstruation and acknowledge that it is a basic normal bodily function. The same way we have condoms readily available in public places is the same way we should be seeing sanitary wear being distributed in this country. In the 2016-2017 budget we had a budget allocation for this area, but government failed to implement MHM projects. Government does have the resources but they just don’t know how to implement the free distribution,” Patience Chisanga-Mayer added.
The Youth and Women empowerment advocate has commended the UPND government for increasing the Constituency Development Fund and sees this as an opportunity for the local communities to allocate reasonable resources to purchase Menstrual hygiene products. She has encouraged the Government to engage the private sector and civil society organisations to invest in providing Menstrual Hygiene Management products amongst the poorest as a long term Corporate Social Responsibility Programme.