Help End Menstrual Poverty in Zimbabwe

Economic conditions are worsening in Zimbabwe as prices of goods and services continue to skyrocket. More girls and women are failing to afford and access menstrual products, which are basic necessities; affecting their freedom to study, work, stay healthy or participate in society with dignity. Zimbabwe’s inflation has risen to 300% in August 2019, the highest in the world. The country’s economy is sliding into a serious recession this year, for the first time since 2009, and will record an economic dip of -5.2% according to the International Monetary Fund, which is the worst in Africa. It is now much more difficult for women and girls to afford period products such as sanitary wear, period pain relievers, underwear, soap, among others; with more underprivileged girls and women desperately resorting to unhygienic means. Sanitary Aid Zimbabwe Trust seeks to raise funds to help Zimb1abwean girls and women properly manage their periods and live healthy, dignified and productive lives. Read more about Sanitary Aid Zimbabwe Trust HERE   

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PLIGHT OF PERIOD POVERTY IN ZIMBABWE

Girls and women who menstruate are more than 3 million in Zimbabwe and the majority of them do not have proper menstrual protection. Each month, their dignity and health is compromised when menstruating, because of period poverty. Incidences of period poverty are proliferating in Zimbabwe, where 72% of menstruating school girls do not use sanitary pads because they do not afford them, according to a study by SNV Zimbabwe. The study also established that 62% of school girls in Zimbabwe miss school every month due to lack of sanitary wear; and 70 percent of these girls are not even aware of any sanitary pad brand on the market. Some use unhygienic rags, cardboard, newspapers, tissues, socks, leaves, cow dung and other unsanitary means to try and manage their flows, which results in infections, leakages and discomfort.

A report by Plan International (Counting the Invisible: Girls’ rights and realities) established that 5% of Zimbabwean girls drop out of school because of menstruation; 14% due to pregnancy and 11 percent due to marriage. Some of these pregnancies and marriages are due to transactional sex whereby girls will be merely looking for money to buy sanitary wear. A Global Education Monitoring Report by UNESCO established that 1,5 million Zimbabwean children are out of school (primary, lower and upper secondary). The report said 12% of children don’t complete primary education, 27% don’t complete lower secondary and 87% don’t finish upper secondary. Even up to now, 44 percent of rural shops in Zimbabwe do not sell any sanitary products at all.

Many girls therefore miss school every month during the days they will be on their periods. The biggest obstacle to using a sanitary wear is affordability in Zimbabwe. Prices of goods and services have been going up sharply in Zimbabwe and menstrual products have not been spared. Zimbabwe’s inflation has risen from an average of -0.2 percent in 2014 to 300% in August 2019, the highest in the world. The price of sanitary pads has risen from an average of $1 to $18 at the moment. The cost of living also rose substantially, with the monthly consumer basket for a family of six rising to $2 087  at the moment from $591 in January 2018. This in a country whereby many households survive on less than US$1 a day.

A recent report by the United Nations has said that the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe is deteriorating. According to the UN’s Flash Appeal report, 5.3 million people in Zimbabwe are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and protection, including 3.8 million people in rural areas and 2.9 million who are severely food insecure. This was before the flash floods and landslides caused by Tropical Cyclone Idai, which further heightened food insecurity in the country and destroyed infrastructure and homes, with hundreds of lives being lost.

In light of the above, incidences of period poverty are therefore worsening in Zimbabwe; and sanitary products are now luxuries to millions of girls and women. If they cannot afford a decent meal, sanitary products are therefore now beyond the reach of the majority of girls and women.

OUR GOAL

Sanitary Aid Zimbabwe Trust is targeting to raise $5,000 to implement projects across the country explained below, to help improve the condition of women and girls suffering from period poverty in Zimbabwe. By participating in this cause, you are taking a crucial step that can have a significant impact on underprivileged girls and women and their decision to show up, participate in, and focus on their education and work. If you feel strongly about reaching out to underprivileged girls to unlock their full potential, then kindly help to make these projects a reality by donating towards this cause. Every single dollar will certainly make a difference.

WHAT WILL THE MONEY BE USED FOR?

Sanitary Aid Zimbabwe Trust has identified some projects that will be implemented to fight period poverty in Zimbabwe. As the initiatives are to a large extent donation-driven, this can only be accomplished with the generosity of different well-wishers. The following are the projects that will be embarked on:

Sustainable Menstrual Protection
The Trust intends to distribute reusable cloth menstrual pads, as well as set up a manufacturing unit for cost-effective and sustainable production of reusable pads for free distribution to underprivileged girls and women. To avoid repeatedly giving underprivileged girls and women disposable sanitary pads every month, which is not cost-effective, moving to this sustainable solution which can take care of a girl’s periods for about two and half years is ideal. Our target is to start with the poorest of the poor, who are at high risk of having their lives ruined if the vicious cycle of period poverty is not broken once and for all. As for the homeless girls, water is a big challenge for them and plans are to source menstrual cups that are easy to clean and don’t require a lot of water to clean, and also have a longer lifespan of up to ten years.

Training
The Trust will also create a training programme for schools in rural areas to teach them to sew reusable cloth pads for every girl in school and other girls in the community. Many rural secondary schools in Zimbabwe teach Fashion and Fabrics as a practical subject and some already have equipment to use. All they require is training and raw materials to start sewing the reusable pads. Where the school does not have Fashion and Fabrics subject, they will be provided with basic equipment and form health clubs where we train them to make reusable pads. Women in poor communities can also improve their livelihoods by making extra pads and sell them to earn income. A soap and detergents-making training programmes will also be rolled out in poor communities as well as schools, to help improve their hygiene.

Educational Programmes
A study conducted by SNV Zimbabwe established that 52% of Zimbabwean girls in school are not getting specific lessons on menstrual health management. Menstrual hygiene education is important as it enables girls to manage menstruation in a way that does not put them at risk of infections that will go untreated. It also empowers girls to fully take control of their periods with confidence. It is our plan to distribute pamphlets and DVDs with animations teaching menstrual hygiene and anti-shaming and anti-bullying.

Miscellaneous
There are other menstrual necessities that will be provide to address the emergence and immediate needs of the underprivileged girls. In some rural schools, there are no water facilities, making it impossible for girls to wash their hands before and after changing their sanitary pads, risking getting yeast infections, bacteria and Hepatitis B. Areas most affected will be identified and provided with hand sanitizers. Further, SNV Zimbabwe established that 75% of schools in Zimbabwe do not have emergency sanitary wear for girls who might start their periods unexpectedly, as well as pain relievers. Sanitary Aid Zimbabwe will procure emergency disposable sanitary pads and pain relievers for provision to schools affected the most. The Trust also targets to purchase underwear, especially for the homeless and rural girls; after realizing that many rural girls and homeless women do not even have underwear, and it will be therefore important to first provide underwear before sanitary wear.

WHO WILL MANAGE THE FUNDS?

The funds will be managed by Sanitary Aid Zimbabwe Trust, a registered charitable trust which exists to foster optimal and sustainable menstrual health management practices to end period poverty in Zimbabwe. The Trust has been to various parts of Zimbabwe, distributing free menstrual products to disadvantaged girls and women in various traffic lanes of life and has been educating young girls about menstrual hygiene. It was also instrumental in the lobbying campaigns which resulted in the removal of taxes on imported sanitary wear (Remove pink tax on menstrual products to foster gender responsive budgeting) and continues to lobby for more government action to foster menstrual equity (Removal of sanitary wear duty on imports not an end in itself ), through measures such as free provision (Sanitary wear: Activists push for free provision ). The Trust is also active in the analysis and contribution to policies that improve menstrual health management in Zimbabwe, and is currently lobbying for the Education Amendment Bill to have a fund for provision of free sanitary products and to ensure girls don’t miss school and enhance their academic performance.

HOW WILL THE MONEY REACH ZIMBABWE?

The money will be sent to Zimbabwe via World Remit. It will be received by Sanitary Aid Zimbabwe Trust, which is the key implementing agency of the projects.

WHO ARE WE?

My name is Mikaela Swing and I am the founder of Positively Archetypal,  stitching menstrual cloth pads  for women for over 23 years. I have a deep love for Zimbabwe and am passionate about women claiming our power back through self-care. The only way that we could start a GofundMe for Zimbabwe was to use my bank. I do this gladly and with much love for women uniting worldwide. I work with Banner Bank in Florence, Oregon. I will be opening up a Savings account and will use that account only for this campaign. I have been working closely with Sanitary Aid Zimbabwe Trust over the past few months, sending them free reusable sanitary pads for distribution in Zimbabwe and also giving them patterns, materials and training manuals for them to train and empower underprivileged women and girls in Zimbabwe with sustainable means to manage their periods. Sanitary Aid Zimbabwe Trust engaged me to start this campaign, through their founder and executive director Theresa Farai Nyava. They can be contacted through platforms below:
Email: [email redacted].zw
Cell/Whatsapp: +263771404853
Twitter: @SanitaryZ
Facebook: @SanitaryAidZW
Website: www.sanitaryaid.co.zw

HOW WILL WE ACCOUNT?

Sanitary Aid Zimbabwe Trust emphasizes on transparency and accountability in utilization of raised funds, to ensure that everyone understands how their contributions would have made a difference to intended beneficiaries and the bright smiles of young women and girls being supported by your kind generosity. The Trust will be regularly giving updates on every activity that will be undertaken, and also share receipts, pictures as well as other indicators. All the funds raised will go towards the stated projects and records of every transaction will be kept.

Donations

  • Ebele Ajogbe 
    • $10 
    • 3 d
  • Fadzai Chari 
    • $50 
    • 7 d
  • Kangwa-Musole Jnr. 
    • $5 
    • 10 d
  • Paola Zanon 
    • $6 
    • 11 d
  • Mazvita Cataldi  
    • $30 
    • 14 d
See all

Organizer

Mikaela Swing 
Organizer
Westlake, OR
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