By Idah Mhetu
FIRST Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa on Thursday called on the government to reduce the prices of sanitary pads so they could be affordable to the majority poor girls and women.
She was speaking during the official launch of Girls Get Equal Initiative by the Plan International Zimbabwe at the National Arts gallery, Harare.
The First Lady commended Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube for scrapping duty on sanitary wear but expressed concern the move has not yet yielded the desired outcome as retail prices of the essential product were still beyond the reach of many.
“We have seen the ministry of finance making a positive move to support menstrual hygiene management for girls by suspending duty on sanitary wear imports,” she said.
“However, the experience of women and girls is that sanitary wear is still too expensive. We need to do more, even the scrapping of prices of this noble cause,” she added.
Speaking at the same occasion, Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda, CEO of Rozaria Memorial Trust that works with girls in the rural areas, said there was need to maintain advocacy around menstrual health issues to afford girls and women their dignity during their periods.
“Girls must be able to have sanitary wear so that we stop using rags like what we used to do during our time, when we did not have them,” said Gumbonzvanda.
“They must be available for girls and they must be free because there is no way that they can afford them since some do not even go to school.
“So we need to continue to advocate for government policy around menstrual wear and ensuring that that they have dignity when the girls have their periods.”
She further reaffirmed her organisation’s commitment to fighting gender-based discrimination and championing the emancipation of girls and women.
“However, all these challenges that my team and I are now trying to redress regarding inequality of women in inheritance and other areas have not happened overnight,” she added.
The Girls Get Equal Initiative is aimed at achieving equal representation, equal power, and equal freedom for girls and women in all spheres of life.