Matabeleland North Correspondent
Hwange: The Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe has called on government to stop giving out condoms for free but instead, distribute sanitary pads free of charge to more deserving girls and women.
Ordinary condoms are given free of charge at health institutions and bars, with some also distributed at workplaces.
On the other hand, girls have to fork out scarce money to access sanitary pads from supermarket shelves.
A women’s rights activist Sibusisiwe Mumba, speaking at a national budget consultation meeting in Hwange Tuesday afternoon, said sex is a choice while menstruation is biological and an involuntary process.
“We have a serious issue of sanitary pads where the majority of women in the country can’t access them. There was $200 million which was set aside for provision of pads and we don’t know what happened to it.
“Girls and women are forced to take family planning pills to avoid having their monthly menstrual periods because pads are expensive.
“Pads should be given free of charge. We should better sell condoms because sex is a choice, but menstruation is biological,” said Mumba.
She said Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube should set aside funds in his 2021 budget for provision of free sanitary pads.
Mumba said more funds should be set aside for establishment of women’s clinics to cater for their special needs.
“If we can have men’s clinics and male doctors, why can’t we have women’s clinics that will be handling issues of women especially commercial sex workers who sometimes don’t access services because they are afraid to go to public hospitals,” Mumba said.
Meanwhile, participants at the meeting said the budget should prioritise vulnerable groups in the society.
Cecil Mahlangu said: “The budget should respect senior citizens and pay pension to everyone who is above 65 years.
“We also wonder why teachers are paid less than soldiers when a teacher is a key professional in the society because everyone passes through his hands.
“It takes a lot to train a child. We want teachers to be paid more than soldiers.”
Mavis Phiri, a woman with a disability she suffered during the liberation war, said funds should be channelled towards capacitating people with disability so that they are not taken as charity cases in the society.
The participants said Matabeleland North, despite having a lot of natural resources, remained the poorest province in the country.
They called for a local investment consultative forum to interrogate investors and keep checks and balances on their implementation of corporate social responsibility.