Sanitary pads shop for legislators
PARLIAMENT is set to introduce a facility where female MPs will access sanitary pads while in the august House, the Daily News reports.
Responding to calls by MDC-T proportional representation MP, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga for Parliament to set up a shop where legislators can buy sanitary pads while attending Parliament business on Thursday, Speaker of the National Assembly Jacob Mudenda said he was working on the facility.
“Female MPs, with your permission , I was hesitant to go into your toilets, but from now onwards, I will be escorted by the deputy Speaker (Tsitsi Gezi) to ensure that the facilities are in place,” Mudenda said.
In making the request, Misihairabwi–Mushonga said menstruation should not be treated as if it were a crime.
“Today is Menstrual Health Day and we have always been calling for ladies’ toilets to have equipment for MPs to access tampons and sanitary pads. It doesn’t have to be free because we can buy. Menstrual periods do not wait for lockdown to end. If you see female MPs dashing out during debates, probably it is because nature has called,” Misihairabwi-Mushonga said.
Menstrual Hygiene Day, which is celebrated on May 28 every year, was set aside to help break the silence and build awareness about the fundamental role that good menstrual hygiene management plays in enabling women and girls to reach their full potential.
This comes as calls for government to provide free sanitary pads for girls continue to grow as they are beyond the reach of many.
Despite the government announcing plans to introduce this much-needed initiative, organisations dealing with menstrual health feel much can be done to improve the lives of girls.
Health experts say owing to the exorbitant cost of sanitary pads, a very critical component for women and girls, reproductive health requirements, most women have to look for alternatives some of which could have undesirable after effects in the long run.
Rural women and girls are said to be the most affected to the extent that some of them go as far as using leaves, animal hides or rags as sanitary pads.
It is also a global platform for partners across all sectors to engage in action, advocacy and knowledge-sharing around menstrual hygiene management.
In Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Botswana have started giving sanitary pads for free to girls with South Africa earmarking over R2 billion to roll out the programme.