Namibia: Free Sanitary Products for the Namibian Girl Child

25 March 2020
opinion

Is Namibia ready to have a conversation about providing the girl child with free sanitary products? While reading the news that Scotland is posed to be the first country to make period products free, I started to wonder where Namibia is at in terms of providing free sanitary products.

This is not something new in the Scottish society, as far back as 2018; the Scottish government has been providing free period products to schools, colleges and universities. When one compares Scotland and Namibia, Namibia is definitely still a developing nation that is plagued by many social issues, of which poverty is the biggest contributing factor to many of these social issues. Namibia is also a very conservative and highly religious nation with deep seated cultural beliefs. Culturally, menstruation is not something that is discussed openly in Namibian homes. There are still people that believe that menstruation is a bad thing.

This could be due to a lack of information and the taboo surrounding menstruation. One does not have to look far to find that the lack of access to sanitary products is a big issue in Namibia. Due to the high poverty rate in Namibia, many people simply cannot afford to buy their daughters sanitary products. When you do not even have food to eat, the last thing on your mind would be buying sanitary pads. Fortunately for us, there are many Namibians with charitable hearts that have seen the problem facing Namibian girls and are donating pads and dignity packages for school going girls.

These are good initiatives but imagine how much more of a difference it would make if school-going girls, especially those in rural areas were provided with free sanitary pads at school. Just like in Scotland, we must all start somewhere and that somewhere is at the school level. There are girls that miss school because they cannot afford to buy sanitary pads and are ashamed of going to school and bleeding through their school uniforms. It is time for the private sector to lend a hand to the government in achieving this great feat. Let us at least start having the conversation so that we are able to move away from the negative connotations associated with menstruation and give people access to information about menstrual health in local languages in order to move away from the negative cultural beliefs about menstruation. Are we ready?

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