Eradicating period poverty

Women Empowerment
A women empowerment movement based at the coast wants to enhance the lives of women through collecting and donating sanitary towels for young girls.
Nikanor Nangolo
Period poverty is robbing girls of their childhood with those who miss school getting further and further behind in their educational progress and suffering real social isolation.

The term describes the struggle many low-income women and girls face while trying to afford menstrual products.

The senior coordinator of the Sanitary Towel Project under AllThingsCharlie, Johnathan Harris said at the official launch of the website & Sanitary Towel project at the MTC Dome (restaurant) in Swakopmund, that is unbelievable that girls in Namibia must choose between an education they need and deserve or going to school because they cannot afford menstrual products. "Many girls use horrific and almost primitive alternatives such as toilet paper, old socks, or newspaper to aid their period poverty. It’s atrocious and unacceptable and needs to stop.”

Breaking the silence

According to Harris one of the biggest problems fuelling period poverty is silence. “If we want to totally eradicate period poverty and smash the taboo around menstruation, women need to somewhat tell everyone about their period. We will move from shame and silence to acceptance and education, by merely starting with a simple conversation. Together we can make periods a normalised and ordinary a subject, because if women start making periods an everyday thing, young girls, boys and men will too,” he said.

Harris pointed out that about eight hundred million girls around the world, miss school for a week, every single month. “We decided to start the Sanitary Towel Project in order to motivate the corporate world and individuals to aid this pressing matter, especially for the coastal girls. We want tor create a register that will have the details of girls from the lower socioeconomic backgrounds on it and are most likely to be faced with this monthly monstrous difficulty so that they can be assisted."

The Sanitary Towel Project allows All Things Charlie to empower young ladies to be themselves by gaining more confidence. To date, All Things Charlie has collected and bought (with generous donations) about 12 000 sanitary towels. “We will be doing handovers to schools in Swakopmund once they reopen. For now, we will be doing handovers in area where there are underprivileged girls,” Harris said.

The Swakopmund based women empowerment movement will host a sanitary towel donation drive on 8 October, in Windhoek. This will be done in collaboration with other organisations with the same aim of assisting young girls to win the fight against period poverty.

The movement strives to enhance the lives of women by providing a warm, inclusive environment, which is always available, to learn from each other about life, work, family, food, home and the general business of being women.

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