28 May, 2021: To mark World Menstrual Hygiene Day on 28 May, 2021, Novartis South Africa and The Clicks Helping Hand Trust (CHHT) have donated 3 000 reusable sanitary pads to two schools in Ivory Park, Tembisa.
“In underprivileged communities, young girls miss a lot of school during their menstrual cycles because they don’t have access to sanitary towels,” explains Sanele Nyathi, Manager of The Clicks Helping Hand Trust. “This initiative was born from the need to help keep these girls in class and on track to realise their potential.”
To date, The Clicks Helping Hand Trust and Novartis South Africa have donated over 9000 reusable sanitary pads to girls in Gauteng schools since the launch of the campaign in 2019.
“As a global company, we have a great responsibility and an even greater opportunity to contribute towards positive social change,” says Sibonile Dube, Head of Communications at Novartis South Africa. “We’re proud to be a part of the solution to complex challenges like the absenteeism of adolescent girls from school due to a lack of access to sanitary towels.”
According to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), not being able to afford sanitary towels results in both absenteeism and increased dropout rates. One UNESCO report revealed that one in 10 girls in Sub-Saharan Africa misses school during their menstrual cycle. By some estimates, this can amount to as much as 20% of a given school year.
The schools that will be receiving the reusable sanitary pads are the Eqinisweni and Umqhele Secondary Schools in Tembisa, Gauteng.
“This donation means a great deal to us,” says Shumani Heluheni, Life Orientation Department Head at Eqinisweni Secondary School. “We live in an informal settlement where a lot of the parents are unemployed. While we receive sporadic donations of disposable sanitary towels, it’s just never enough as these often get shared among family members. We really appreciate what this will do for our learners.”
Reusable sanitary pads provide an alternative to the high cost of disposable sanitary pads, as they can be washed with clean water and re-used for three to five years. The gift of reusable sanitary pads relieves households of the monthly cost of sanitary products.
“The Clicks Helping Hand Trust is about building a healthier future for our communities,” says Nyathi. “It is our hope that these reusable sanitary pads will help reduce the financial burden on families who are struggling to make ends meet during these difficult COVID times. Reusable products are also much better for the environment as they reduce the amount of plastic going to landfill.”
Founded in 2011, The Clicks Helping Hand Trust provides free preventative testing and wellness services to disadvantaged South Africans. Girls on the Go, a programme of The Clicks Helping Hand Trust, aims to provide access to sanitary towels so that girls feel empowered and confident to manage their periods safely and hygienically.