By Margaret Kamba

Padding a girl or woman has been an initiative started by many organisations with the First Lady Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa taking it a step further to empowering communities to make their own reusable pads.

The realisation that the monthly menses are an important time in a woman or girls’ life. While they are important they are a difficult time, with women not only becoming conscious of their surroundings during that time but resulting in many others foregoing their daily duties to ensure that they are not a spectacle.

Making this time as comfortable as possible has seen such organisations as Girls R Us stopping the use of dirty old rags by some girls to cleaner and disposable pad use, which has left many girls and women feeling more healthier and confident.

Girls R Us founder Sandra Moyo relates how the COVID19 pandemic has hampered her organization’s efforts to padding one girl at a time.

“Pad collection has been a nightmare this 2020, even worse with this pandemic, COVID19 although we have not stopped to Pad our girls during that time of the month. What is sad is that even during such disasters, the menstrual cycles do not stop hence the need for us to continue making the girls comfy one pad at a time,” Moyo said.

“My heart goes to our rural school girls whom we normally assist with their menstrual resources termly. This year we only managed to visit some of them during the first term while for some, we could not visit since the term was cut short. Our Bulawayo team also only managed to donate to a number of girls just before lockdown.”

She shared how the pandemic has opened opportunities for other girls to be padded and wear a bright smile.

“The sanitary pads we failed to distribute to some of our usual girls were collected by some orphanages for their girls. With the lockdown in place, we haven’t had any contacts with our usual beneficiaries in the rural areas and I cannot imagine what they have been using for their periods. I know some must still have a packet or more but I know some may have run out of their sanitary pads.”

Going forward, Moyo said “as much as the donations are trickling in slowly, the Girls R Us Team isn’t stopping to source for more sanitary pads for our girl friends. This pandemic has seen us stretching our hands to some working class women who were laid off work during this period and some urban girls whom we weren’t catering for before. Sanitary pads have become so expensive and most girls and women cannot afford them now. We continue to pad our girls one pad at a time.”

A few girls and women shared the predicament they have during this time.

Tiriwashe Zengeya applauded the First Lady for her reusable pad initiative.

“I applaud the First Lady for her efforts in making sure people get reusable pads. The fact that many have also empowered communities to sew this kits is also commendable. More people need to come on board in making sure that girls and women have comfortable monthly cycles.”

Sibongile Ndlovu said “I have been using some old rags because I cannot afford to have pads. They have gone expensive with a packet of pads now costing between RTGS$50 to RTGS$ 100. If you have a family you forgo your own needs to serve others.”

Esther Nkomo appealed to the social welfare to include sanitary ware as part of the basic commodities being handed out to people.

“I would like to appeal to the social welfare to include sanitary ware to the list of basic commodities being handed to people. Monthly periods are natural and many of our women and girls find themselves using old rags which must be washed with clean water and soap so that they do not suffer from diseases. The provision of these pads will go a long way in ensuring proper menstrual health care for many women.”

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