Minister Mthuli Ncube

GENDER activists have expressed concern over the high price of sanitary wear despite the removal of exercise duty last year.

Announcing the 2019 national budget last November, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube removed duty on sanitary pads.

Activists had over the years pleaded with Government for duty free and subsidised sanitary pads to no avail.

Speaking in an interview, Emthonjeni Women’s Forum (EWF) programmes manager, Ms Mellisa Ndlovu, said despite the removal of duty, many cannot afford the price of sanitary wear. 

“Despite the government removing duty on sanitary wear, it is still not affordable. The government should subside sanitary pads and consider giving them for free to all girls of school going age,” said Ms Ndlovu.

She said young women are using rags because they cannot afford pads.

“Most young women and girls are forced to use torn cloths because they can not afford pads and we found that some of the girls end up not going to school because they do not have sanitary wear,” said Ms Ndlovu.

Matabeleland Widows and Single Parents Trust Director, Ms Sipho Nsimbi, said sanitary wear is not available at rural schools and urged the government to donate pads to the schools.

“Getting sanitary wear is a challenge for schools girls in rural areas and there are many needy girls who are failing to buy pads. I urge the government to do something about it,” Ms Nsimbi.

She said her organisation managed to educate five primary schools on how to re-use pads.

“As Widows group, we managed to teach five primary schools on how to make pads using reusable ones. The Ministry of Health tested and approved them in 2014,” said Ms Nsimbi.

Recently, the chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Ms Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, said girls aged from nine to 14 years resort to contraceptives to avoid their periods because they have no access to resources.

Ms Misihairabwi-Mushonga said there were new products on the market that could save girls from the dilemma.Chronicle