Keep a girl in school campaign launched

Sanitary pads donated

01 November 2020 | Local News

Knowledge Ipinge; Councillor; “We want a future in which menstrual hygiene is a normal, and not a luxury.”

Walvis Bay •[email protected]

Walvis Bay urban constituency councillor Knowlegde Ipinge launched the Lil-Lets Keep a Girl in School campaign at his office recently.

To kick-start the campaign, sponsored by Lil-Lets and Shoprite, Ipinge handed over 600 packs of sanitary pads to Tutaleni High School, Kuisebmond Secondary School, Duneside High School, De Duine Secondary School and Duinesig High School.

Lil-Lets and Shoprite are also driving an in-store initiative. For every pack of pads bought by a consumer, Lil-Lets will donate a pack of pads to a school girl.
According to Ipinge, a young woman told him about her first menstrual cycle while attending a community engagement.

“Although fierce and fearless at the time of the conversation, she told me that when she got her first period – and for two years after that – she needed to skip school on the days where she felt her flow was at its heaviest. Her parents could not afford to buy the sanitary products she needed. She is not alone. Her story is common amongst too many young girls in schools; here in Walvis Bay, across the country and elsewhere in the world.”

The United Nations Population Fund describes this as period poverty; the struggle that many low-income women and girls face while trying to afford menstrual products and hygiene and which, in turn, heightens their economic vulnerability and social stigmatization.

“Period poverty is known to share a close relationship with the stigmatization of menstruation in many households and communities. It is tied to things like, ‘menstruation is dirty’, ‘menstruation is a sign of readiness for marriage or sex’, ‘all women are moody during menstruation’, ‘women cannot work to their best abilities when they menstruate’ and so many other harmful stereotypes which demean and oppress women in our societies.”

Ipinge pointed out that numerous experts draw a relationship between solving period poverty by making sanitary products accessible and reducing the stigma of menstruation in communities.

“Many times you will see that the conversation on solving period poverty invites the conversation on breaking the stigma surrounding menstruation.”

About a month ago, the Women’s Action for Development began a campaign
calling on government to scrap Value Added Tax on sanitary products.

The direct aim of the campaign is to make sanitary products more accessible, and thus, reduce period poverty in Namibia. The indirect consequence of this campaign, however, is a renewed conversation on menstruation in general, and, particularly, the stigma that it invites in communities.

Ipinge explained that the Lil-Lets Keep a Girl in School campaign has the potential to grow and accelerate the conversation on period poverty and menstrual stigma in Namibia.

“When this conversation happens, we will possibly see less girls missing school because of periods; less women losing out on opportunities because of a natural and normal occurrence; less girls facing humiliation and bullying at schools because of their periods; and possibly even increased efforts at menstrual and comprehensive sexual education. This is the future that we want. A future in which menstrual hygiene is a normal, and not a luxury.”

Musician Monika Pineas better known as Top Cheri is the patron of the Lil-Lets Keep a Girl in School campaign which will be rolled out to all regions of the country.

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