Last week I stopped by Dischem to buy a few things. When I got to the counter, my teller Lerato asked me if I’d like to buy a pack of pads to donate to their Million Comforts Campaign. In my rush I hadn’t noticed the purple bins lining the till isle or the piles of pads at each tellers station. Lerato’s quick question enabled me to change focus and make a difference in someone else’s life.
Access to sanitary items is something many of us – I included – take for granted. Periods are either inconvenient or a welcome relief, but when they arrive, we can easily reach for a pad, tampon and painkiller and continue with our lives with minor interruption.
This routine is luxurious when you contrast it to the conditions that many woman and girls in South Africa live under.
According to UNICEF, one out of 10 schoolgirls in Africa misses classes or drop out completely due to their period. Many of them also substitute regular pads or tampons for less safe and less absorbent materials such as rags, newspaper or bark which may cause infections.
Project Dignity estimates that 7 million school girls in South Africa don’t have access to sanitary pads as they can’t afford them. These girls can end up missing a fifth of their education due to their periods and lack of necessary products. Many of these girls also come from child headed homes where there is none to educate them on sexual health.
Initiatives like Dischem’s Million Comforts campaign, Caring4Girls, Project Dignity and Subz Pads are not only directly helping give young girls their education back; but help us be a part of changing someone else’s life.
1. Dischem’s Million Comforts Campaign
Last year, Dischem’s Million Comforts Campaign ensured that 146 000 girls did not miss a single day’s schooling because of a lack of sanitary products, by donating 6 500 000 sanitary towels. Half of those sanitary towels were donated by the public – by you and us, going into a Dischem store and purchasing a pack at the till and dropping it in the bin. The other half was matched by feminine hygiene product suppliers: Always, Kotex, Lil-lets and Stayfree.
Dischem is once again running the Million Comforts Campaign this year and getting involved is as easy as adding one more item to your shopping cart next time you’re at Dischem and dropping it in the bin. The campaign runs from June 15 and July 15 and you’ll find the big purple bins in every Dischem Store.
Find out more here
2. Project Dignity
Another initiative making a difference is Project Digintity and Subzpads. Started by Sue Barnes, Subz Pads are reusable and washable panties and pads packaged into Subz packs and distributed to young girls aged 10-19 years in schools and communities through Project Dignity.
Each Subz pack has 3 pieces of underwear with clip on studs, 9 re-usable sanitary pads and an educational booklet. The pack can last up to 5 years, allowing girls to live their lives uninterrupted by their monthly cycle.
For more information click here
Caring4girls is a sanitary towels distribution programme which strives to help keep young girls in school during their monthly cycles. Caring4Girls also provides health education on puberty and adolescence to demystify menstrual related myths and break down societal taboos. Through their educational initiatives they also help build young girls self-confidence and self-respect.
For more info click here
If you know of other ways to get involved and donate pads, let me know in the comments!
Main image by Zissy Lewin for Nutreats®
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Feige is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to code things, design things, and all things beauty.