Sanitary pad vending machine for Obs school

O Grace Land executive director Philani Zama demonstrates how the sanitary pad vending machine works.

Two male-led non-profit organisations have given birth to a sanitary-pad vending machine, which has been installed an Observatory school.

The vending machine, to be restocked monthly, will dispense free sanitary pads. It was conceived by O Grace Land and the MENstruation Foundation. Both organisations are based in Pinelands.

Comedian Siv Ngesi is a co-director of MENstruation. “We want every school to have a vending machine like this,” he said at the launch of the device at the School of Hope, on Tuesday April 13.

“There is an injustice in the country, where condoms are free, though sanitary pads are not. If men bled once per month, sanitary pads would be free.”

MENstruation Foundation was started in 2019 and helps girls who can’t afford to buy female sanitary products.

Springbok rugby women’s captain Babalwa Latsha, who is a member of the foundation, said the vending machine would ensure that girls would not stay out of school because they were having their periods.

“School is the one place that should be safe and empowering for young women, and this project will ensure that they stay in school.”

Members of the MENstruation Foundation, Babalwa Latsha, left, and Siv Ngesi at the launch of the sanitary-pad vending machine.

MENstruation co-director Marius Basson said it had taken nine months to complete the machine, with support from sponsors. “This machine is totally manual; it does not need any electricity,” he said.

The machine is in the girls’ toilets and works using tokens that will be given to the girls. One token will provide eight sanitary pads each month.

O Grace Land executive director Philani Zama said they had worked closely with the MENstruation Foundation on the project and he was thrilled that the vending machine would help girls who could not afford sanitary pads.

Trevor Petersen, School of Hope’s deputy principal, said the vending machine would help to restore the dignity of young women from poor communities.

“It will make it more convenient for them; it will give them privacy as well as respect for them as they now have this machine in their restroom.”

Mr Basson said they would be installing more of the vending machines at schools with support from their sponsors.

Schools can contact Mr Bassonat 083 651 8430 or to find out how they can have their own vending machines.