‘We want promised pads’

Members of Amandla.Mobi held a peaceful protest at the Hector Peterson Memorial on Wednesday.

The launch of Youth Month on Wednesday was met with a protest by women who are calling for government to supply free sanitary towels to schools.

While cabinet ministers and other government officials were laying wreaths at the Hector Pieterson Memorial, a small group of girls was picketing on the side.

The picket action was organised by Amandla.Mobi, an organisation which focuses on raising awareness about challenges young girls face when they are on their periods.

They were holding placards calling for government to honour the promise made by President Jacob Zuma in 2011 of supplying the indigent with free sanitary towels.

“Do you know what it’s like to use a sock or newspaper as a sanitary pad when you are on your period? We want promised pads,” reads one of the placards.

Thuli Ngubane who was leading the picket said they are bringing women’s issues which are often forgotten to the fore.

“We decided to stage this protest here today because they are launching Youth Month and we are bringing an issue which affects young black girls.

“It is unacceptable that 22 years after democracy we still have girls who use socks and newspapers when they are on their periods,” said Ngubane.

Government officials did not respond to the protesters and they were not disturbed when they were laying wreaths on the memorial tomb.

Government officials who witnessed the protest were Jeff Radebe, Panyaza lesufi, Buti Manamela and Nathi Mthethwa.

Lesufi responded when he was making his opening remarks at the launch of Youth Month a short while after the incident.

“It is not true that government does not care about young girls who attend our schools. Every month we distribute dignitary packs to our schools for indigent pupils. These packs not only contain sanitary towels but they have roll-ons and towels as well,” said Lesufi.

In his 2011 State of the Nation Address the president said, “Given our emphasis on women’s health, we will broaden the scope of reproductive health rights and provide services related to amongst others, contraception, sexually transmitted infections, teenage pregnancy and sanitary towels for the indigent.”

Amandla.Mobi believes that this commitment by the president has not been honoured by government hence the protest.

It is estimated that girls who can’t afford sanitary towels miss about 30 days of school a year when they are on their periods.


Mzwandile Khathi

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