Zimbabwe: Withdraw Free Condoms and Issue Sanitary Pads Instead - Women

Women's rights activists who attended the Women's Indaba have called upon the government to stop the distribution of free condoms and channel the resources to avail free sanitary pads instead.

The activists also lashed out at MPs who have been advocating re-usable sanitary pads arguing there is no running water for this in the country's urban centres.

Organised by the Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ), the indaba was held under the theme, 'Towards and Inclusive and Gender-Equitable Economic Development in Zimbabwe.' It was attended by over 300 delegates from across the country.

"Imagine you have three girls in your family, you add yourself then look at the price of sanitary pads. It becomes a burden and expensive. Then you look around and realise condoms are distributed for free even when sex is a pleasure and by choice," Thandikile Mkwananzi a gender activist with WCoZ told the delegates.

"You can't avoid or stop menstruation. If they (authorities) can afford to give male condoms to satisfy their sexual feelings, then they should be able to do the same with sanitary wear."

Mkwananzi added that a call by some legislators to introduce re-usable sanitary pads is a health risk.

"Imagine if a child changes her pad at school, keep it in school bags with books and then wash it later at home, this is a health risk," she told delegates.

"We cannot abstain from menstruation but we can abstain from sex."

Added Mkwananzi: "Imagine a laundry of pads at different residential areas. How can we wash the pads when we have perennial water shortages."

Meanwhile the delegates to the indaba also discussed the calibre of women representatives in areas such as Parliament. It was agreed that most are not representing women's issues fully.

"We must go and sit outside Parliament until the women legislators start talking about sanitary pads and that it should be distributed to all marginalised girls," said Linda Masarira, a political activist and feminist.

"The question is, are we electing the right people to represent women in Parliament?"

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