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#EndPeriodPoverty for women and girls in Zimbabwe by giving the gift of a ‘dignity kit’ this Christmas

Period poverty in Zimbabwe is driving thousands of women and girls to desperate measures. Shortage of money and a worsening humanitarian crisis means most can’t afford basic hygiene products like sanitary pads and soap.

Janet Nyamutenha (37) from Zimbabwe is pictured with the free dignity kit she received through a women’s empowerment initiative. Before this, she couldn’t afford feminine hygiene products. Photo credit: Trócaire Janet Nyamutenha (37) from Zimbabwe is pictured with the free dignity kit she received through a women’s empowerment initiative. Before this, she couldn’t afford feminine hygiene products. Photo credit: Trócaire

Janet Nyamutenha (37) is a mother of three from the Mutasa District, Mutare in eastern Zimbabwe. She is one of thousands of Zimbabwean women who can’t afford monthly sanitary pads. They are a luxury for women like Janet, who struggles to earn enough to feed her family and would rather keep her money to buy food.

To improvise Janet uses an old rag when she has her period – something which can cause severe reproductive and urinary tract infections in women and girls. Cloths aren’t always properly washed and are stored in damp and unhygienic conditions for use the following month.

“As an unemployed woman working as a peasant farmer with only two hectares of land it is difficult to make ends meet. There is no way I can spend $2.00 USD each month on pads. I would rather buy cooking oil with the money I have.”

“It is unthinkable to budget for sanitary items so I use old cloth during my period. At times the pieces of cloth I use destroys my clothes,” she said.

Zimbabwe has the highest inflation rate in the world and as a result, the price of sanitary pads has skyrocketed. According to SNV Netherlands Development Organization, 72% of menstruating schoolgirls in Zimbabwe do not use sanitary pads because they cannot afford them. 

As a result, they use rags which cause leakages and stain clothing and school uniform. Girls are then embarrassed, and miss school resulting in them giving up their dreams and settling for early marriages.

80% of women in Janet’s locality are not formally employed and rely on small-scale subsistence farming for survival. They can’t afford sanitary pads and don’t prioritize buying them.

These women put the needs of their family first and their own needs last, and often their husbands are not prepared to buy these essentials. To them it’s a waste of money.

On top of this, Zimbabwe continues to face severe water restrictions and 37 percent of households in rural areas still don’t have a toilet.

To help women and girls in Zimbabwe restore their dignity, the Diocese of Mutare Community Care Programme (DOMCCP), supported by Trócaire, have implemented a women’s empowerment programme to help combat period poverty in the Mutasa district.

Dignity kits containing sanitary pads, toothpaste, toothbrush, petroleum jelly and soap were handed out to 1,000 women. Janet was one of the recipients and she couldn’t be happier.

“I am really grateful to DOMCCP and Trócaire. This kind gesture allows us as women to restore our dignity.”

The dignity kits are designed to last two months and each woman received the kits three times this year so far.

This women’s initiative has been supporting Government efforts in the fight to end period poverty in remote parts of Zimbabwe, with the aim of making Sexual Reproductive Health services accessible to all.

Supporting women’s self-esteem and confidence in the countries where we work is a top priority for Trócaire and our partners.  Safeguarding dignity amongst women and girls is vital for living through the most unimaginable humanitarian crisis.

Buying a €10 ‘dignity kit’ gift for your mum or sister this Christmas can help combat period poverty in the countries where we work.

You can help combat period poverty by giving a gift of love this Christmas

Trócaire’s range of Gifts of Love this Christmas includes options to support women with menstrual dignity kits.

Your Gift of Menstrual Dignity provides girls with access to reusable pads, soap, cloths, underwear and a ‘how to’ guide. A portion of the gift will also go towards programmes aimed at educating and destigmatising periods…

This €10 gift can help Safeguard dignity amongst women and girls and combat period poverty in the countries where we work.

 

You can buy our Dignity Gift here

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