Ward 89 ward councillor Monde Nqulwana has joined the increasing number of individuals and campaigns who are working toward raising awareness around the plight of school girls who do not go to school when they are menstruating because they do not have access to sanitary towels.
Recently Mr Nqulwana made a donation of sanitary towels to more than 650 pupils at Matthew Goniwe High and Soyisile Primary schools.
Mr Nqulwana and city health department said the aim of the initiative was to improve the conditions of children in disadvantaged communities.
Under the theme “Isidima sabafazi” (women’s dignity), Mr Nqulwana said his actions were aimed at restoring girls’ confidence and dignity during this natural process and that he had decided to take part of his ward allocation and contact the health department to donate pads to the girls.
He said the need for sanitary towels had been highlighted during a budget consultation process with the community.
“Our working class school girls miss days at school because their parents cannot afford sanitary towels.
“ We have set aside ward allocation money for this project as part of our commitment to building a healthy environment that values all in our society, particularly the most vulnerable, our children,” he explained.
Mr Nqulwana also lamented the lack of disposal bins in women’s toilets at schools and said he had noticed that even toilet paper was scarce in these toilets.
“There is no place to throw the pads.
“Children are forced to throw them down the toilet hence the constant blockage of drains, he said, adding: “We need to intervene where there is no toilet paper to wrap these pads. We must help these young women.”
He said there should be no child who misses classes because she is menstruating and has no sanitary towels, and asked teachers to keep an eye out for those who could not afford sanitary towels.
The initiative to help alleviate absenteeism and restore dignity was commended by Khayelitsha health workers.
Talking to the girls about puberty, Khayelitsha Youth Clinic sister Nompucuko Masiza said the initiative promoted health and hygiene among the girls in the poverty- stricken areas.
Ms Masiza took the opportunity to urge young girls to visit clinics if they noticed changes in their bodies which they did not understand.
She said puberty could be a confusing time, with so many changes happening to their bodies.
“There are periods, pimples and many other things, but these are signs of growth.Yor first period is scary.
“There are hormones involved. Some start with periods at an early age, from age nine upwards which can be scary to them.
“But if they see ‘strange’ things in their bodies, they are lucky to have a youth clinic that they can come to,” she said.
Teacher, Mvuselelo Fuzile, said they were grateful for the intervention by their ward councillor, confirming that some children were losing time at school because they were scared to attend school during their periods.
“We know our communities are disadvantaged. There is a lot of unemployment and poverty. This will be of great help to us and the children,” she said.