The recent debate by National Treasury around the feasibility of VAT exemptions on sanitary products called to the fore the fact that thousands of impoverished women who are unable to afford sanitary products, battle to go about their lives. In response, one organization has headed their call and developed a product that will provide menstruating pupils the ease to continue attending school. Dignity Dreams, a non-government organization (NGO), has developed a reusable sanitary towel that will provide females with a cost effective way to manage their menstruation.
Speaking to VOC, founder of Dignity Dreams Sandra Millar explains that the initiative was birthed approximately three years ago when she became aware of the methods employed by female students to aid with their menstrual cycle.
Given the dire socioeconomic situation that communities within south Africa are faced with, many young girls and women are forced to make use of any mechanism to manage menstrual bleeding, including; newspaper, socks, and toilet paper.
Millar says that the product has been designed to appeal to the feminine eye with its many colours, which has proven to be a hit with the ladies since the colours create a colour-blocking affect.
She notes that each pack contains six washable-sanitary towels, three pairs of panties, a zip-lock bag and an instruction sheet.
“It is really not fair that these girls have not been granted dignity. [So] part of our task is to go to the girls and not only hand out the packs, but to spend an hour with them explaining to them what is happening to their bodies and that entering womanhood is really a celebration,” she stated.
Millar adds that each sanitary towel is sewn by previously unemployed women, who through working within the organization are able to support their families by establishing micro businesses for themselves.
The organization has to date been able to facilitate the establishment of 19 micro-businesses of women who are trained to sew the Dignity Dream sanitary towels.
As the International Day of the Girl Child draws near, the organization is launching an “age-appropriate” booklet in order to further educate young girls and boys about their bodies and the process of menstruation.
“We want girls to accept what is happening to their bodies and that it is a normal part of growing-up, as we want boys to understand that this is a normal thing that is happening to their friends,” she continued.
Millar urges everyone to get involved and assist Dignity Dreams to give underprivileged girls access to their right to dignity, while supporting the empowerment of women who drive the initiative.
For more information and to assist, visit: www.dignitydreams.com