BY Phyllis Mbanje
Vulnerable women and girls are set to benefit from the launch of the Menstrual Health Specialists (MHS) Trust which will collaborate with stakeholders in providing safe, affordable, sustainable and eco-friendly sanitary wear.
Access to sanitary wear remains a huge challenge in Zimbabwe with many women resorting to unorthodox material during their menstrual cycles. Rural girls are the most affected and they miss out on school every month to attend to the process.
“By launching the MHS Trust, we hope to be able to engage with you to help vulnerable women through providing a choice of sanitary products that are safe, sustainable and environmentally friendly,” said
Butterfly Cup Company managing director Sarah Fox.
The trust, launched at the Canadian Ambassador to Zimbabwe’s residence on Wednesday, aims to collaborate with industry leaders, non-governmental organisations to provide a choice of sanitary wear which
include the Butterfly menstrual cup which offers a cheaper option that lasts for up to 10 years.
The menstrual cup, already approved by government, is a reusable silicone product designed to be worn internally. It is simple to use and clean.
At the launch, the MHS Trust also announced another menstrual ware called Viva Lily Period Underwear. The underwear is designed to look and feel like normal underwear. The pants, equivalent to two menstrual tampons, are washable and reusable for up to two years.
The MHS Trust said it was concerned about preserving the environment and will only be engaging with partners able to supply plastic free products. Quality, sustainability and choice are key concerns for the Trust.
Fox said they had embarked on that journey after hearing many sad stories about girls using rags, sacks, mattress stuffing and maize cobs.
“They told us that they often suffer with rashes, infections and sometimes life-long reproductive health issues because they are forced to improvise and cannot afford sanitary products,” she said.
To date they have distributed over 4 000 cups in various trials working with organisations such as FHI360, UNFPA and The Beatrice Project.
Speaking during the same event legislator and chairperson for the Parliamentary education committee Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga said the issue should be dealt with as a human rights concern.
“This is a human rights issue. If we think it’s important to give people food when there is hunger I don’t understand why we don’t think of providing sanitary wear to women who cannot afford it,” she said, adding that Parliament was pushing Zimra to allow duty free importation of sanitary wear.