The non-profit distributors of reusable sanitary pads, Project Dignity, has heaped praise on the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education for the launch of its recent initiative which provides sanitary pads to thousands of high school learners.
In a circular distributed by the department, the project is outlined whereby Grade 4 to 12 learners in 2 992 schools throughout the province will receive packs of sanitary pads. All relevant learners from these schools, situated in impoverished areas, will receive a new pack of sanitary pads every month.
It states: “The initiative seeks to reduce the drop-out rate of girl learners caused by missing out on school, due to not being able to afford sanitary pads.”
Sue Barnes, founder of Subz Pants and Pads and its non-profit extension, Project Dignity, congratulated the Department of Basic Education on this forward-thinking project which shares Project Dignity’s vision of empowering young women through education.
“It is so heartening to learn that the provincial Department of Education has identified this life-changing need of so many South African learners,” said Barnes. “We really applaud them for embarking on this bold initiative which is certain to positively affect the lives of these women. We hope the next step will be to invest in reusable sanitary pads which will prove more cost-effective, freeing up the Department of Education to channel funds into other priority areas. The reusable pads are also more beneficial for our fragile environment.”
In 2012 Barnes established Subz Pants and Pads, a reusable sanitary pad which attaches to a specially-designed cotton panty. The product is completely environmentally friendly, easy to use and can be reused after washing for up to five years, depending on product care. Through Project Dignity, in collaboration with corporates, thousands of packs of Subz Pants and Pads have been distributed to schools across the country in an effort to prevent school absenteeism. One particular organisation, The Sibaya Trust, has partnered with Project Dignity, sponsoring some 7 500 Subz Pants and Pads packs to learners over the past three years.
“Many young women are forced to miss school for a week every month because of a lack of proper sanitary products,” explained Barnes. “There are often insufficient funds in the home for the purchase of what is considered a ‘cosmetic’ product. The absence at school accumulates, the learners fall behind, resulting in an increase in failure rates. This gives them very little chance of improving their current situation.”