In a country where half the population is living under the poverty line, it is estimated that about 3.7 million girls are unable to afford sanitary pads.
Meanwhile, research conducted by the University of Stellenbosch found that 30% of pupils in South Africa are missing school while on their periods.
This has prompted Gugulethu community activists Wonke Mapeyi, Aux Womdantso, Thami Kwintsi and Bridgett Dlwengu to launch a campaign to collect sanitary towels for girls who can’t afford them.
“We went knocking on doors, and to businesses, asking for help and were warmly received,” said Mr Mapeyi.
They also distributed collection boxes where they would attract attention.
They also targeted sports events like the social football league games where fans were encouraged to make donations.
The sanitary pads were then distributed to Nobantu and Walter Teka primary schools, and Oscar Mpetha High and Fezeka Comprehensive, all in Gugulethu.
“We haven’t stopped there, we will continue to tackle period poverty to ensure that menstrual health management is accessible to all,” said Ms Dlwengu.
Ms Kwintsi said the lack of sanitary pads impacts the lives of school girls around the world.
“Most kids skip school when the robots are red and you find that parents are struggling to put bread on the table,” she said.
Teachers at the schools welcomed the initiative by the group and urged more people to support efforts like these.