Livingstone High School got a boost in the fight against period poverty when it received a sanitary-pad vending machine on Monday September 21..
The machines are installed by two male-led non-profits, O Grace Land and the MENstruation Foundation from Pinelands. They installed the first machine at School of Hope in Observatory in April. (“Sanitary pad vending machine for Obs school,” Southern Suburbs Tatler, April 15).
This is the 21st machine that has been installed between the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal and there are plans to start installing them in Gauteng from next month, according to Philani Zama, the executive director of O Grace Land.
“We are getting a positive response from the machines and it is growing fast to ensure that young girls get access to free pads,” he said.
Mr Zama said his organisation and MENstruation did the fund-raising for machines and they also had support from corporate donors.
MENstruation co-director Marius Basson said the machine, which will be installed in the girls’ toilet at Livingstone High, worked with tokens and needed no electricity.
Acting principal Raliyah Ganie said: “This will allow our girls to feel safe and comfortable, and it will give the girls comfort in knowing that their menstrual cycle will not be affecting their school attendance.”
Grade 10 pupil Jayden Leigh Smith,16, said: “Period poverty is a problem worldwide, and the stigma around menstruation still exists, though this new machine is a positive step.”
Grade 10 pupil Zahrah Thebus, 15, said girls in the younger grades were still getting used to their periods and might be caught off-guard without sanitary towels. “Sanitary towels are expensive, even though it should be considered a basic need for women,” she said.
The Harfield Village Association (HVA) helped fund the installation of the machine, and it is now raising money for machines at Heathfield High and Athlone North Primary through its isiDima campaign, which is spearheaded by committee member Amrain Essop (“Civic starts sanitary pad drive,” Southern Suburbs Tatler, August 12). Email Ms Essop at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.