Despite the plights, the South African government has been slow in its response to preserve menstruation dignity.
Menstruation dignity lacks priority in government budget
Whilst there has been increased recognition that sanitary dignity cannot be isolated from sanitation, women’s health and education services, government has demonstrated a lack of priority of this, as is evident in its budget allocations.
Despite all the campaigns that appeal to government to deliver on its promise of sanitary towels for the poor, there still remains a lack of clarity in terms of government’s commitment to provide menstruation products through existing structures and service delivery programs.
Community leaders and menstruation health champions who are faced with the plight of those most affected by undignified menstruation experiences are advocating for change to see an increase in access to menstruation products, health education and an improvement in youth-friendly health services.
According to the Western Cape government’s 2016 Budget Summary, the 2016/2017 budget allocations respond to the principles outlined in the strategic goals of the province.
The graphs below depicts the budget allocations for the 2016 / 2017
There is definitely a need for government to make provision for menstruation dignity – a deliberate effort must be made to factor this into the broader service delivery system; health, education or social development. Engagements and perception surveys conducted with learners at Mountview High, Hanover Park, Parow High and Fezeka Secondary in Gugulethu, reveal that there is a need to prioritise budget for menstruation health.
At a national level, the Department of Women is working on solutions to integrate menstruation education as part of the broader drive to ensure menstruation dignity for the poor, according to the Western Cape government’s Department of Social Development (DSD).
According to Kim Smith, Special Project Manager at DSD, local government is looking into the menstrual hygiene management issue in a holistic way due to the complexity surrounding the issue. It requires an inter-sectional transversive project.
This is some hope for the many poor schoolgirls and homeless women in South Africa; a small promise for a solution that can bring change and relief.
Until then, the plights continue.