Lockdown: Menstrual health must be prioritised

Women organisations say there is need for women to advocate for affordable menstrual hygiene products which are now beyond the reach of many.  

Annually, on May 28, the world marks World Menstrual Hygiene Day and this year`s theme is ‘its time for action’.

In an interview with CITE, Emthonjeni Women’s Forum programs manager Melissa Ndlovu said women need to take action and speak out against menstrual challenges.

“Its time to take action and advocate for the affordability of menstrual hygiene products following this year’s theme ‘it’s time for action’ meaning women should take action and speak out against the menstrual challenges,” said Ndlovu.

“This day also means that women should be educated about menstrual hygiene, and the social stigmas and taboos surrounding menstruation which often prevent rural girls from attending school and other development initiatives.” 

She said this is a difficult time for women with a large proportion of them faced with various challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“This has been a very difficult time, noting that a lot of people have lost their jobs and there has been an increase in livelihood gaps especially for those who are more likely to be engaged in informal and low wage activities or migrant work,” said Ndlovu 

“Therefore this has seen a lot of women failing to attain proper hygiene material amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This is worsened by the fact that sanitary wear for young girls and women is often overlooked at the expense of bread and butter issues.”

She added that most young girls have resorted to using unhealthy materials since reusable materials require water to be cleaned.

“A lot of young girls have resorted to using newspapers as they cannot use a cloth or reusable pads due to water rationing problems in some of the cities,” she told CITE.

She, therefore, advised women to take action and “hold the government to account on putting to practice issues or real subsidises for sanitary wear.”

A menstrual health activist Ruvarashe Miti said during this unprecedented time when the country is fighting against the pandemic menstrual health should also be a priority.

“As a menstrual activist, during the unprecedented month as a nation and across the globe taking measures to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been eye-opening to see the menstrual health community work harder than ever to make menstruation matter,” said Miti.

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