Donna Gamatham (20) from Gibeon, through her non-profit organisation, #SheIsNotInvisible, this week handed over 300 re-usable pads to three schools in the Hardap region. The organisation was launched in 2019 when Gamatham was a learner at Mariental High School and aims to empower and uplift women by educating and creating awareness about contemporary issues that affect women in Namibia.
Gamatham, with assistance from the office of the Hardap governor, procured the material to make the re-usable pads from South Africa through the Children’s Movement, who then manufactured the pads. However, plans are underway for #SheIsNotInvisible to manufacture their own re-usable pads in future.
She said the idea of giving re-usable pads to schoolgirls is more effective as opposed to disposable sanitary pads. She added that the pads will help with alleviating period poverty which affects everyone, males included.
“It is our responsibility as a society to collectively address the issue of period poverty. Let us be a society that intentionally and deliberately makes it a priority for young women to have access to education,” said Gamatham.
Three hundred girls from Mariental High School, Empelheim Junior Secondary School and C. //Oaseb Senior Secondary will benefit from this initiative.
In her speech read by the regional head of the information and communication technology ministry in Hardap, Treasure Kauzuu-Tjizera, the deputy minister of information Emma Theofelus said girls’ menstruation should not disrupt their right to education.
“I am confident that this gesture will assist the learners in these respective schools in managing their menstruation to ensure that they do not miss a single day of school due to a lack of sanitary towels,” said Theofelus.
The young parliamentarian, who earlier this year proposed to the National Assembly to consider making sanitary pads more affordable by making them tax free, said that this move will help alleviate period poverty amongst schoolgirls.
“Millions of menstruates across the world are denied the right to manage their monthly menstrual cycle in a dignified, healthy way. When women and girls cannot manage their menstrual hygiene, it can negatively impact their rights, including the rights to education, work and health,” Theofelus emphasised.
She further urged communities to engage in menstrual health and hygiene programmes that can help girls to build the skills to overcome obstacles to their health, freedom and development.
Kenya and South Africa are some of the countries that have imposed tax free on sanitary pads and have so far started providing free sanitary pads to schoolgirls since 2018 and 2019 respectively. Sanitary pads will be tax free as from March 2022 in Namibia.