ZIMBABWE: The sexual and reproductive health of women has become a concern as the women are at a high risk of cervical cancer through the use of unhealthy material during their majority during monthly periods.
For many individuals and charity organisations, the effects of COVID-19 in rural areas raised an alarm on how women require assistance during their monthly periods.
The skyrocketing of basic needs during this time of COVID-19 has left many young girls with no option than to use alternates they can afford without considering health effects.
Buying sanitary wear has become a privilege for the selected few, as sources of income have been shattered too many in-country where the informal sector is the main employer.
This left young girls and parents who cannot afford sanitary wear resort to rags and cow dung.
Workshops and Campaigns on Menstrual Health
But the heavens seems to have answered the prayers of those in Manicaland Province as many girls related campaigns and workshops prioritize sexual reproductive health.
Through such workshops, some individuals and groups recognise predicaments that the underprivileged face.
After attending an Ignite Youth workshop on sexual reproductive health, 21 years Rufaro Mutyamaenza was transpired to start her campaign called Re-usable Pads Campaign.
“Knowing very well that its a necessity every month for a girl child to have sanitary wear and l personalised it and the thought of myself using rags made me push to learn how to make reusable pads.
“From the 1000 target that re-usable pads campaign seeks to reach l planned to give 3 re-usable pads for each girl and one lasts for 5 years”, she told Transcontinental Times.
As a way of social responsibility, she targets her home province, Manicaland rural schools and also to train young girls on how to make them either for personal use or start a business.
Use of unhealthy materials
In Manicaland, there has been a record of using cow dung during menstrual period whereby they dry it and wrap it on a cloth.
Dellamercy Charity Organisation (DEMCO) a trust-based in Mutare confirmed of the issue, but pronounce it unhealthy.
Therefore, to address the challenge DEMCO launched projects to assist women’s reproductive health.
DEMCO Programmes Manager, Robert Chiwadzwa said there many initiatives at hand to address the challenge where others have been already implemented and some are on pending as the trust is mobilising resources to champion them.
“In responding to this challenge we have been distributing reusable sanitary wear to these girls and young women in the area in Manicaland”.
Extending from sanitary wear only to dignitary bags
“We also have the Girls not Wives project wherein we want to distribute dignitary bags to the girls in the area.
“The bag will contain all the things a girl need for her pride in both the home and society”, he said.
A dignitary bag contains items such as toothpaste, Colgate, towel, face towel, bath soap, shaving stick, lip gloss, mask, nail cutter, lotions, comb, tissues, hair remover, roll on among other reproductive health necessities.
From the Girls, not Wives project, 130 girls in Mutare are expected to benefit from the dignitary bags project.
Menstrual health as part of empowerment programs
As girls empowerment campaigns prevalent, some organisations believe menstrual health is part of the campaign.
Founder of Ignite Youth Organisation, Tadzie Madzima said they are running a program that focuses on empowering girls so that they can build their confidence and live to their fullest potential.
“Part and parcel of the program are to make sure we help girls achieve this is to make sure they get adequate resources to have dignified periods.
“We can’t talk about girl empowerment without talking about menstrual health”, she said.
Last year the organisation in partnership with Chengetai Team ran an Eco-period campaign advocating for economical and environmentally friendly pads.
The cheapest price of a pack of pads is US$1 or $90 RTGS that some people may have worked for the whole day.