Zimbabwe

Young women mobilise for sanitary wear for flood victims

In a move aimed at addressing the sexual and reproductive health challenges of women and girls affected by the Tokwe Mukosi flooding, a group of young women from Harare are mobilising for sanitary wear to donate to the flood victims.

Dubbed “Surviving Tokwe Mukosi: Surviving the month”, the initiative is co-ordinated by a group of young women who are beneficiaries of a SAfAIDS training program entitled Young Women First.

Over 3, 000 families have been living in tents at Chingwizi and Nuanetsi Ranch in Masvingo since January after their homes were swept away by the flooding Tokwe-Mukosi Dam.

The families are living under the temporary shelters while waiting to be allocated land for resettlement.

Said one of the co- ordinators of the initiative, Anna Sango: “The cost of sanitary wear is high. Most women and girls end up using unhealthy items such as cow dung, tissue paper, leaves and newspapers during their menstruation.”

She said because women and girls affected by the floods had other pressing challenges, it was highly likely that the challenge of sanitary wear would not be considered as important.

“We realised that the women are experiencing problems regarding how to deal with their menstrual cycle and affording sanitary wear during this very difficult time. Because this it is something that they can not openly express, we decided to come up with this intervention as a way of assisting them,” she said.

Sango said since last week, the young women were mobilising for sanitary wear donations from as little as a single packet of pads, cotton wool and tampons as a means of assisting the women and girls.

“One realises that because of their living conditions, it is very difficult for women and girls experiencing their monthly menstruation cycle to experience the usual privacy,” she said.

“This is why there is need to donate sanitary wear to fill in this gap.”

Sango said donations, especially in the form of sanitary wear are welcome because ‘there is no limit to how much the group is mobilising”.

“We are appealing to Zimbabweans to donate towards this cause. If we could only spare a thought for those in need and save a dollar to donate to the affected women and girls, I am sure that together we can touch a life.”

Zimbabwe is one of the best world producers of cotton but the costs of sanitary wear is beyond the reach of many especially among rural girls and women.

A pack of 10 pads costs at least $1, 20 and a 250-gramme pack of cotton wool costs $1, 50.

Last year, legislators and several organisations from the women’s movement joined forces, campaigning for free sanitary wear.

The deputy minister of agriculture, representing Goromonzi North constituency, Paddy Zhanda implored the then finance minister, Tendai Biti to assist in the provision of free sanitary wear. He argued that rural women were engaging in unhygienic practices such as using tissue paper, newspaper and cow dung during their menstruation.

The YWF Programme is a SAfAIDS initiative that is co-ordinated by the Students and Youths Working on Reproductive Health Action Team that seeks to mobilise and empower young women, through the provision of support that leads them to reclaiming their sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The YWF program provides a platform to raise awareness of SRHR issues and to speak on behalf of young women and girls at continental level, linking them with countries, regionally and Internationally.

It provides them with the opportunities to access platforms such as the African Union, UN Women, and UNGASS.

The programme is being implemented in Malawi, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Those wishing to donate can get in touch with Anna or Clara on the following numbers:

+263 772 973 636

+263 778 228 467