Menstruation is not a choice

Sharlien Tjambari

Estomitch Muniazo, one of the persons who benefitted from the donation of sanitary pads by the Swakopmund Lions Club, says sanitary pads should be free for learners. Menstruation, she argues, is not a choice. The harsh reality is thousands of teenage girls suffer monthly as they don’t have the financial means to afford sanitary pads and that severely impacts the quality of their lives, including having to go to school under these very challenging circumstances.

The donation of the pads formed part of the commemoration of Menstrual Health and Hygiene Day at the Swakopmund Secondary School on Tues-day.
Often girls suffer from stress and depression brought on by the fear of staining their clothes during their menstrual cycle. Not to mention the discomfort and embarrassment which accompanies such worst case scenarios. Many also suffer pain during menstruation and often have no means for medicine to ease the situation.
The Director of Education, Arts and Culture in Erongo, Ernfriede Stephanus, explained this is the second year that Namibia commemorates Menstrual Health and Hygiene Day.
An awareness campaign amongst adolescents, educators, parents and policy makers on the importance of dignified menstrual health and hygiene management commenced at the beginning of May, leading up to the main event on 28 May under the theme “It is time for Action”.
Stephanus further said: “Namibia will focus on in-creased policy and programs to focus public attention on menstrual hygiene management. It is a critical challenge to-wards social empowerment. Namibia will also focus on targeting various sectors of the population to ensure that everyone is aware of the actions they must take in order to en-sure dignity for all women and girls”.
The main event was commemorated in Kavango East this year. The purpose of commemorating Menstrual Hygiene Day is to create awareness on menstrual hygiene management (MHM) by providing right information to assist teachers, boys, girls and the community to understand MHM issues.
“With the involvement of different stakeholders we intend to make the provision of sanitary products a continuous activity. I would like to thank all sponsors”.
Renate Witt of the Lions Club in Swakopmund was delighted to have commemorate this very important day with the children of Swakopmund Secondary School (SSS). She was so much more satisfied with the fact boys attended the proceedings, as this is a sign that Namibian men join the fight in Menstrual Health Management as their female loved ones too are affected by this.
The Lions Club, explained Witt, is there to serve the community wherever and with whenever they can. Last year the Club realised that there was a need for sanitary products among school learners. They responded to the call and started asking for donations on behalf of the girls. “Last year Plartz am Meer donated N$15 000, the Lions Club donated the same amount and so did each member of the Lions Club, in the end we have about N$60 000 for this project and lucky enough, Platz am Meer gave us a storage unit where we are keeping the sanitary products. We asked that each month every school should take the needed amount of sanitary products from the storage room to their schools but, I am not happy with the fact that only six out of the 11 schools went to collect the products”, Witt said further.
She also said this pro-ducts are only meant for the needy girls in all 11 government schools in Swakopmund and it is a project which is of benefit to the community and pledged the Lions will keep this project alive and going.

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