A lack of basic essentials is limiting some girls' education.
In very poor areas, like the South African Eastern Cape area profiled in this UPI story, the $2 needed for a package of pads can be a lot of come up with — and many girls would rather miss a week of school a month than deal with the embarrassment of going without protection or making due with inadequate substitutes like newspaper.
Faith Coetzee, a life orientation teacher at Mary Waters, said she's kept a stock of sanitary towels in her office since last year. She said she encourages other teachers to contribute money to the cause. Coetzee said the cost of the towels come from her own pocket. "We see the same girls coming to ask for pads, we know that there are many more who are too shy or embarrassed to come forward," Coetzee said. "They are girls and they have their pride." Students noted that condoms are free and easily available in school bathrooms and clinics. Sanitary pads, for those who cannot afford them, should be just as easy to obtain, students said.
And pads themselves are only the beginning: schools also need bins to hold discarded materials. At least the issue is now garnering some attention: in February, South African President Jacob Zuma addressed the need for pads in schools, although so far no official policy has been implemented. Of course, this is not a new issue nor one unique to South Africa: the Maka organization (featured in the video) is based in Ghana and addresses a similar shortage. Always has launched a campaign to bring free sanitary napkins to areas around the world where they're needed. And if you want to help, visit SanitaryPadsforAfrica.org. Because those days add up, and missing out on education can have major consequences.