Reusable sanitary wear is keeping disadvantaged girls in school: survey
Reusable sanitary wear is allowing schoolgirls in semi-urban and rural areas of SA to attend classes regularly.
An Ipsos survey found that Project Dignity - a non-profit concern disseminating reusable sanitary pads and underwear to disadvantaged schoolgirls – is having a positive impact on school attendance.
In 2010, a KwaZulu-Natal woman, Sue Barnes, who has a background in fashion design, created the country’s first reusable sanitary pad and underwear pack - Subz Pants and Pads - to address girls missing school because of the cost of sanitary wear.
The product is a patented design where the washable, reusable sanitary pad clips directly onto a 100% cotton panty.
Nearly 90 schoolgirls from three KwaZulu-Natal schools - who used the items as part of their menstrual management - took part in the survey.
A total of 57% of the schoolgirls said they are using Subz exclusively to manage menstruation, while 68% said the packs made it easier to attend school during menstruation. Seventy-five percent said the reusable packs made them feel more confident about managing menstruation.
Through individual and corporate sponsorship, Project Dignity has distributed thousands of packs to schoolgirls, aged between 10 and 19, across SA and beyond its borders.
"We are incredibly grateful for the support of all the sponsors that have enabled us to disseminate the product which aims to address high dropout rates at schools," said Barnes.
"This year alone we are proud to have reached 7,939 girls in the KwaZulu–Natal, Western Cape, Gauteng and Eastern Cape provinces in 60 schools. The data gathered from the schools will help us navigate the project going forwards," she said.
Tessa Schoeman of Ipsos Global said: "The results highlight the importance of personal information and instruction, not only in the practical use of the pads, but also about menstrual health in general.
"While it is reassuring to see that communities are starting to embrace eco-friendly (and cost-effective) products, it is also clear that this will only happen through continued education to address the stigma still surrounding menstruation.
"The role of community health workers and educators are invaluable to achieve this," said Schoeman.