Pads crisis for the rural school girl

MIRROR REPORTER GUTU – There is growing appreciation of the crisis facing the rural school girl in terms of hygiene during menstrual pe...


GUTU – There is growing appreciation of the crisis facing the rural school girl in terms of hygiene during menstrual periods as more individuals are mobilising the little they can in terms of sanitary pads they can to assist.
Ellie Takaona-Hamandishe, a nurse in Harare is one such woman who has been touched by the plight of the young teens each time they are on menstruation. She says the crisis is big; it has both immediate and long term repercussions and there is need for well co-ordinated interventions.
She said menstruation is a health and education concern. Takaona-Hamandishe who worked as a nurse at Harare General Hospital and then sister-in-charge at Zupco before she joined PSMAS in Harare made a donation of a consignment of pads to Nyazvidzi Secondary School in Nyazvidzi, Gutu.
Speaking in an interview with The Mirror Takaona-Hamandishe said the majority of parents in the rural areas cannot afford to buy pads which can cost up to $3 per menstrual circle. She said instead, the girls some of who go on menstruation at as early as grade six have to find old pieces of cloth to use as pads.
"A large number of rural girls stay with grandparents who cannot even afford 50c for their grinding mill. The pad is a big luxury which only a tiny minority of the rural girl can afford and therefore getting an old piece of cloth, washing and using it is the norm.
"However, even the rags are hard to come by, so once the girl child gets one, she uses it over and over again through many menstrual periods. If you get to a school you will find out that the girl will wrap the rag in a plastic paper after use and place it in her satchel where there are books and food.
"A rag is not only unhygienic but it's difficult to use. Little girls who virtually have no guidance can use the piece of cloth repeatedly without washing it and even if it is washed, they re-use it without ironing and naturally it breeds bacteria," said Takaona-Hamandishe.
In the short term, the use of an unhygienic rag results in rash on the girl's genitals and this can develop into sores. In the long term, the practice may result in cancer, said Takaona Hamandishe.
She said the lack of an effective intervention on the problem of pads is a huge draw-back on Government's policy of empowering the girl child as the majority of girls spend 15 days away from school a term, when they are on menstruation because they cannot manage the biological cycle.
"Boys laugh at girls when they discover that they are on menstruation because boys themselves don't understand it. This causes embarrassment and girls would stay out of school for the duration of the cycle to preserve their dignity.
"The Government's policy of empowering the girl child, though so noble is difficult to realise in the rural areas because even in class, boys are at an advantage as girls spend many days away from lessons," said Takaona-Hamandishe.
In order to spread her programme, Takaona-Hamandishe said she was embarking on a national campaign and in the diaspora to mobilise pads.
"I will be appealing to fathers, women in the cities, Zimbabweans in the diaspora to make a donation for this noble cause. I am confident that whatever small contribution one can make will ultimately have enormous impact on the problem," she said.
Takaona-Hamandishe who suffers from panic attacks illness has inspired her to work for the disadvantaged.
For those who may want to help please contact Ellie on



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The Mirror: Pads crisis for the rural school girl
Pads crisis for the rural school girl
The Mirror
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