Are you familiar with the term “period poverty?” It is a global sanitation issue affecting millions of females around the world because women and young girls who menstruate are still ostracized.
It is estimated that roughly 7 million South African girls on their period often miss one or more days of school, totaling up to 20 percent of the school year, and some drop out altogether. The cultural shame associated with menstruation often prevent women from studying and work.
According to UNICEF, 2.3 billion people worldwide live without basic sanitation, making it difficult for women and girls to manage their menstrual cycles. Poor hygiene during the menstrual cycle can in turn cause health risks related to the reproductive and urinary organs. Many also cannot afford personal hygiene products because of the “pink tax” (a markup on women’s products similar to men’s). Period poverty also affects psychological wellbeing as women become embarrassed of their own bodies.
In order to resolve this global issue urgently two things need to be done: breaking the taboo around a normal biological process and providing access to personal hygiene products.
Starting October 15, Rosatom began supporting the girls at Mpuluzi High School in Mayflower, Mpumalanga with sanitary products. The company has also organized a discussion on female hygiene, inviting a local expert to interact with the learners. The hygiene products were supplied by Palesa Pads, an organization, which manufacture reusable hygiene pads with a shelf life of up to 5 years, providing a reliable and environmentally friendly long-term solution to a critical problem faced by young women across the globe.
“The biggest problem of the period poverty is that women have to choose between buying food and buying period products and it shouldn’t have to be a choice. The other issue is silence. Not enough people or companies talk about it. By supporting this initiative, we are not only helping girls, we are also raising awareness. We do hope to see more and more companies joining us in the fight against period poverty. We hope that in the future, this perfectly natural female process will no longer prevent girls and women from reaching their potential and fulfilling themselves because of missed opportunities,” exclaimed Evdokia Polyakovskaya, PR Manager at Rosatom Central and Southern Africa.
According to Ilya Rogachev, Russian Ambassador to South Africa: “My country has never been indifferent to the fate of African nations – in the past Russia rendered assistance to African nations in their liberation struggles against oppression. Today, all be it in a small way, we pledge our support in the liberation of young African women. I believe it is our common duty to help our children to walk along this thousand-mile-long path as long as we can, as we attach our best hopes for a better future to our children, and the generations to come.”
The event is only the first step towards achieving the UN SDG 5 (Gender Equality) in South Africa and overcoming the taboo and stigma surrounding the menstrual cycle. The company plans to continue raising this issue and expanding partnerships in the future.