MEC Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba restores dignity to young girls

Empowering young women and uplifting their dignity through the Girls on the go campaign

The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and Clicks Helping Hands Trust joined hands to embark on a campaign to ensure that the dignity of young girls in the Northern Cape remains in tack and that it is not diminished or degraded because of menstruation.

The campaign of distributing reusable sanitary towel panties kicked off in Hopetown at the Steynville High School and will be rolled out to rural schools in the Province. The reusable sanitary towel has a life span of approximately 3 to 5 years. It is environmentally-friendly, affordable sanitary option at Clicks stores.

Developed, designed and manufactured by Sue Barnes, founder of Project Dignity, the Subz pads are made of five layers of specialised fabrics which earned the product a SABS absorbency approval. Barnes developed the product after learning about the dire situation in African schools whereby young women are forced to miss vital classroom time because of a lack of adequate sanitary wear.

Taking into consideration the geographical landscape of the Northern Cape , and the high level of poverty in our rural areas , the Department of Sport , Arts and Culture and Clicks partnered to implement the Girls on the Go campaign at identified schools in the rural towns of the Northern Cape. The distribution of reusable sanitary towels will not only ensure that girls are now able to attend school during their monthly cycles but also has financial benefit to impoverished families , as there be no need to purchase sanitary towels for the girl child in their household.

At the launch of the campaign the learners from Steynville High School in Hopetown , Strydenburg High School in Strydenburg and Griquatown Combined and Karrikama High School from Griekwastad the MEC for Sport , Arts and Culture Ms Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba said According to research, lack of access to sanitary towels often results in young women from poorer backgrounds being absent from school or experiencing the loss of human dignity because of having no choice but to use old newspapers or cloths. Girls who cannot afford pads or tampons miss approximately 5 days of school a month, which amounts to 60 missed school days a year. There are many aspects that link girls' attendance to their menstrual cycles. The lack of affordable sanitary products for girls and young women keeps them at a disadvantage in terms of education when they are young and prevents their mobility and productivity as young women. Without sanitary products, girls are excluded from their right to an education as stipulated by the Constitution of South Africa.

She went on to say that This Sanitary Towel Campaign is not just about supplying sanitary towels to young women, it is about making significant life-changing differences. The sanitary towels do not only enable girls to attend class regularly, the effect is greater in the sense that this improves on the government's goal of making access to education simpler and eventually ensuring better economic exposure for young women.

Ms Donna Davids , the CSI Manager from Clicks said that Girls from disadvantaged backgrounds miss up to a week of school during their period as they are not able to afford basic sanitary wear. This has a profound negative impact on their education and for this reason, The Clicks Helping Hand Trust is committed to empower and keep girls in school by distributing reusable sanitary hygiene packs to schools across South Africa in the hope of reducing absenteeism. While we will continue with our activations which aim to provide all young South African women with reusable sanitary pads, we are thrilled that the public is also able to purchase these user-friendly products, all while supporting the Girls on the Go campaign.

The saying goes it takes a village to raise a child, hence we appeal to the public support this campaign by visiting their nearest Clicks branch and make a donation of R 29.95 at any of our till points.

The Clicks Helping Hand Trust is a registered nonprofit organization which offers free clinic services through the network of Clicks clinics to disadvantaged South Africans who do not have medical aid and lack access to basic primary healthcare services. The Trust is also active in local communities through the Girls on the Go campaign, and provides support to some of the 2.5 million girls in the country who miss school every month due to a lack of basic sanitary wear.

The department calls upon the rest of the private sector to join the campaign and partner with the Department in making a difference. Collectively, this is our responsibility as Government and the private sector, to join hands and fulfill in the need of all our learners, especially the girl child.

Source: Government of South Africa

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