By Robert Tapfumaneyi
Kariba: Using unsafe methods such cow dung, dirty pieces of cloth and tree leaves as substitute for often unaffordable sanitary pads could now be a thing of the past for some less privileged women and girls in this Mashonaland West resort town.
With only $3, one can now purchase reusable pads for the whole year as one simply needs to wash it after use.
The pads are being manufactured by a group of women under Tony Waite Organization, an institution that empowers vulnerable women and children with hand skills.
They are going for as little as 0.50c each and a single one can be used for an entire year, compared to one standard packet of pads in the country, which, at $8, remains beyond the reach of many young girls.
There has been an outcry from various women and girl rights groups calling upon government to distribute sanitary pads for free as is the case with male condoms.
In an interview with NewZimbabwe.com, Tony Waite Organization executive director Ellen Vengere said the project started this year and has come in handy for many less privileged women and young girls.
“We launched our sanitary wear manufacturing project beginning of this year in order to chip in and assist women and girls and we are producing about 200 pads per month but can go above depending on orders,” Vengere said.
“This has also come as a source of employment for many women here which is an added advantage with one major one being its durability and hygiene.
“The re-useable sanitary pads are so user friendly compared to the disposable ones because we feel if we want to protect our environment, it’s a way to go for everyone to use reusable sanitary wear because of the way we dispose of these sanitary pads.”
Vengere said the material that is being used to produce the pads does not wear off easily and it is also comfortable with users.
“It’s easy to wash and it doesn’t take minutes to dry. So, we are encouraging women even those who can afford to buy disposable sanitary pads to start using re-useable pads.”
Some companies that manufactured sanitary pads in the country have now closed shop due to the economic meltdown and now pads are imported from neighbouring countries such as South Africa with the payment of duty which places them beyond the reach of many.
Even so, some girls in tertiary institutions end up so desperate that they begin engaging in sex work in order to raise money to buy the sanitary wear.