At a Combined Harare Residents Association meeting held in Glen Norah last week, residents lamented failure by council to prioritise health concerns.
Farirai Gwenduranga, 17, a student at a local school said girls’ concerns centred around menstrual hygiene. She spoke in a hushed tone, emphasising that she cannot voice her concerns at a public forum because of the cultural perspectives surrounding menstruation and the taboo on discussing such ‘private’ issues.
“Girls are the worst affected because there is no water for them to use to ensure good menstrual hygiene management,” she said.
Sharon Takashinga, 18, an upper sixth student from Glen Norah said most of the girls from her class skipped class towards month- end, attributing this to failure by schools to provide good sanitation services. “When the girls soil their uniforms, the embarrassment and ridicule from colleagues forces them to go home ‘to sort themselves out’ and most girls would rather stay at home than go through such an experience,” she said.
“Sometimes, the chair that you would be sitting on is labelled ‘bloody chair’ and the joke continues throughout the whole term,” she said.
“Girls’ competitiveness with boys is compromised because they normally miss 528 of their schooling days while they are experiencing their menstruation,” said Alice Sasa, the National Programme of Action for Children manager in the Health Ministry.
“They miss school because of failure to access sanitation facilities. They would rather stay at home than compromise their integrity, although menstruation is a natural process.”
Rumbidzai Svosve, a microbiologist with the Standards Association of Zimbabwe, said there was need to educate students and communities on good menstruation hygiene management. “Schools and communities should set up hygiene clubs where such issues are discussed and practical solutions are identified,” she said.Post published in: News