FRANCISTOWN: The Botswana National Front (BNF) has welcomed a decision by Parliament to pass a motion calling on government to freely distribute sanitary pads in all public schools.
The motion was tabled by Nata/Gweta, Polson Majaga and received an overwhelming backing from other legislators.
Specially-elected Member of Parliament, Bogolo Kenewendo said that disadvantaged women and girls were forced to use unsanitary objects such as newspapers, old mattresses, rags with sand during their menstruation cycle. She added that some girls miss school during their menstrual cycle.
“It is a good motion. We support it because it is consistent with what we have been calling for as the BNF,” said secretary general of the BNF, Moeti Mohwasa yesterday.
The BNF has in recent years been relentlessly advocating for the government to provide free sanitary pads in public schools and to disadvantaged women and girls who are outside schools. The most vulnerable individuals are women residing in rural areas.
“Our wish is that the sanitary pads should be provided to all disadvantaged women and children not solely in public schools as Majaga suggests. However, it is important to emphasise that Majaga’s motion is a step in the right direction,” Mohwasa said.
Mohwasa said that the BNF’s wish is to see sanitary pads being freely distributed in public facilities like condoms.
“If women and girls continue to use unsanitary methods during their menstruation cycle they are likely to contact infections or illnesses that may be costly to treat on the part of the government,” he said.
In 2015 the BNF launched a campaign termed ‘Ensuring the dignity of woman’. The purpose of the campaign is to distribute sanitary pads to disadvantaged girls and women. The party has since the campaign donated sanitary pads to some rural communities across the country.
There has always been an outcry that disadvantaged children and women resort to unhealthy methods during menstruation. Last year a teenage girl from Tshwaane settlement in the Kgalagadi district highlighted her plight of not affording sanitary pads, during an interview with one of the local newspaper.
She said that she uses a scarf during her menstrual cycle. During the narration of her ordeal, the teenager also said that she often misses school during her menstruation cycle.
The girl said that many of her colleagues often go through a similar ordeal during their menstruation cycle. She said that tuckshop owners overprice the sanitary pads because they are in demand in the area. One of the originators of #KeepingGirlsInSchool campaign Kesego Malambane expressed delight towards the passing of Majaga’s motion by parliament.
Through the campaign, Malambane and her colleagues collect (from good Samaritans) as well as distribute sanitary pads across secondary schools in Francistown and its surroundings. The campaign was launched last year.
The aim is to roll out the campaign to other parts of the country. For most parts of the interview, Malambane echoed Kenewendo’s sentiments.