Shamva Teachers To The Rescue Of Female Students

Teachers in Shamva district have become accustomed to some of their female students missing classes every month. The truancy comes when nature calls as girls cannot afford sanitary wear. As a way of pacifying the gap teachers are providing their students with sanitary pads.

Shamva Teachers To The Rescue Of Female Students
Credit: Nicole Kurebwaseka
Shamva Teachers To The Rescue Of Female Students
Shamva Teachers To The Rescue Of Female Students
Shamva Teachers To The Rescue Of Female Students
Shamva Teachers To The Rescue Of Female Students
Shamva Teachers To The Rescue Of Female Students

Teachers in Shamva district have become accustomed to some of their female students missing classes every month. The truancy, comes when nature calls as girls cannot afford sanitary wear.

As a way of pacifying the gap teachers are providing their students with sanitary pads.

This came out during the launch of HIVOS project “Youth Access Initiative" by HOPE for Adolescents and Youth in Shamva. A teacher who spoke on condition of anonymity said the prevailing situation and the price of sanitary wear had hit hard on rural girls.

"The problem we are mainly facing with pupils here is that when they are on their monthly periods, the majority of them cannot afford to buy pads. As a teacher, I end up chipping in and giving her my own pads. They come and notify us that they have started their periods. We are left with no choice but to help.

"Sanitary pads are a big challenge especially for us from the rural side of the country," she said.

The cheapest packet of sanitary pads is pegged going for at ZWL$19.00. This leaves the young girls with no option but to use unhygienic material.

One woman said she sometimes uses cloths which leaves her uncomfortable.

"When we use the cloths we cannot walk for long distances as it causes friction between the thighs. The cloth can also drop when you are in the middle of something which makes you uncomfortable in public places," explained Mai Matizanadzo.

HOPE for Adolescents and Youth Managing Director, Michelle Ndlovu said her organization through a grant by the US Embassy is focusing on responding to menstrual health management.

"This is a HIVOS funded project but we were recently awarded another grant by the US Embassy under PEPFAR. This grant will be focusing on responding to the menstrual health management challenges being faced by young girls and women in this ward.

"We will be responding to these needs by training them to sew handmade reusable pads as well as machine-made reusable pads. The advantage of these is reusable pads is that you can use it for at least two years and it needs to be sun-dried which is more like sterilizing it because we have noticed that the women and children here do not have access to disposable pads.

"The disposable pads are now expensive and they cannot afford. And we want to able to improve their access and use at least use something hygienic. We are also training them on how to manage their menses and break the silence, taboos around menstrual management." said Ndlovu.

A 2015 survey by the Ministry of Women and Youth Affairs, indicates that 20 percent of girls miss school due to period pain while 67 percent miss school due to lack of pads and 26 percent stay home because of heavy flows during menstruation.

In Zimbabwe young people’s reproductive health needs are often neglected by existing reproductive health services. There is a lack of affirming and tailored SRHR services for young people in Shamva district.