Re-usable pads revolutionise lives in rural and urban settings

Risitseng Rukasha, 36, is passionate about promoting menstrual hygiene among disadvantaged women and young girls. Working with Integrated Sustainable Livelihoods since 2009, she has trained more than 1,000 women, girls and men on how to make re-usable sanitary pads.

The different types of re- usable sanitary pads.
The different types of re- usable sanitary pads.

“Having worked and trained people on how to make re- usable sanitary wear in Mudzi, Nyabira, Battlefield in Munyati and Mhondoro Ngezi, I have proved that the challenges experienced by women and girls regarding access to sanitary wear are alleviated by training them to make pads for themselves,” she said. The project was co-ordinated by the UN WOMEN and Women’s Affairs ministry in several districts.

Now a consultant, Rukasha said menstrual cycles were a key issue in erratic school attendance by girls. “In this modern day and age it is completely outrageous that girls miss school because of their monthly cycles. After the trainings, attendance at the school improved and the girls were much more confident to take part in school activities,” she said.

In Mhondoro Ngezi, the trainings targeted women and men, with some of the beneficiaries getting income to kick start income-generating projects.

“The women and men from Mhondoro Ngezi made pads which they sold and they generated income for a chicken rearing project. The reusable pads are user friendly because they are made using very soft material and a very thin plastic material,” she said.

“Fleece is very user friendly and the pads are very hygienic and cheaper. Instead of spending a $1 a month for pads, women and girls use the re- usable pads for over three years,” she said.

Chioniso Mandishona from Kutsi pads, a company manufacturing re-usable pads for resale in Zimbabwe, said her organisation supplied mostly non-governmental organisations.

“Our interventions target mostly NGOs working with marginalised communities,” said Mandishona, adding that the use of the pads among women in urban setups was also increasing. Most women now appreciate the benefits that come with using re- usable pads. They are very comfortable, easy to use and cheap. They are also much better for the environment.”

According to a survey conducted by Integrated Sustainable Livelihoods, one in 10 school-age girls did not attend school when menstruating.

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