Africa-Press – Lesotho. Up to 49.6 percent of the world’s 7.5 billion population (UN World Population Report 2017), being female are all affected by menstruation, yet this natural phenomenon continues to stigmatise this half of humanity.
Menstruation remains a social taboo despite the dire need for women and girls to be equipped with information on best hygienic practices, an enabling home, workplace or school environment – and at times a sanitary pad to protect themselves effectively.
On this year’s commemoration of the international Menstrual Hygiene Day, on May 28, local NGO, Amazing Zone and online radio station, SkyAlpha HD partnered to donate reusable sanitary pads to five high schools in Maseru.
The donation was accompanied with imparting basic information on menstruation and menstrual hygiene and health to the recipients. Speaking at the event, ’Malesili Motopi from Amazing Zone indicated that they have so far distributed more than 2 000 sewn reusable sanitary pads, noting that those can be a solution because they are manageable.
She said the idea of the producing reusable sanitary pads was borne out of the principle of optimum utilisation and recycling of resources to avoid wastage.
Reusable pads are a viable alternative to ordinary sanitary pads, are more helpful and better for health, as well as the environment. Apart from that, she said the products remain usable for several years and are pocket-friendly.
Speaking at the same event, Mrs ’Masebongile Matoko, a widow and mother of three children, who is one of the sewers of washable and reusable sanitary pads, said she is now able to pay school fees for her children and save money as she and her daughters no longer need to buy pads.
She said the health of her son with a disability has also improved significantly as she is now able to provide him with the necessary medical care which she could not afford before.
On the same day, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) handed over dignity kits to Princess Senate Mohato Seeiso at the Royal Palace in Maseru. Princess Senate Seeiso received the dignity kits on behalf of Queen ’Masenate Mohato Seeiso’s Hlokomela Banana initiative to which she is patron.
She then handed them over to 20 of the young girls during the handover ceremony. In total UNFPA has offered 400 dignity kits to the Hlokomela Banana initiative.
Handing over the Dignity Kits, UNFPA Representative to Lesotho, Dr Marc Derveeuw, emphasised to those in attendance that menstruation ought not to be controversial.
He faulted societal perceptions that lead to menstruating women being pushed to feel cast out, feeling fearful and ashamed while at the same time being treated differently and left vulnerable.
“Living with dignity is a human right that should be preserved,” he stated.
Dr Derveeuw expressed hope that the 400 dignity kits being offered for young women and girls under the Queen’s patronage will go a long way in helping the girls regain their dignity and overcome the challenges that are brought about by nature to them as women of reproductive age.
Receiving the kits, Princess Senate expressed gratitude to the UNFPA saying the gesture was a clear testimony of the fact that the UN agency was indeed a dependable partner in Lesotho’s pursuit of the development agenda.
“UNFPA has always stood with Lesotho in its efforts to support vulnerable members of the society, especially women and girls,” she added.
Princess Senate noted that young women and girls in the country faced a number of challenges that they have to deal with each day of their lives, she said these can be devastating to their young lives if not addressed adequately and early enough.
She expressed concern over incidents of child marriage, which is estimated at 24 percent, and early and unintended or unplanned pregnancies which sometimes force girls to drop out of school and seek employment, saying these exposed young girls to untold vulnerability.
She added that oftentimes, young girls fall victim to these problems as a result of the socio-economic state of the country and the financial status of their families.
The UNFPA also works with the Office of the First Lady, ’Masekoalane Majoro and the Disaster Management Authority in the distributing dignity kits to vulnerable young women and girls in the country.