Sanitation is not just a girl issue, it’s a global issue
In an ideal world, every girl has access to education, hygiene products and sanitation however in reality not every girl has access to this kind of support or resources. This reality doesn’t exist for millions of girls and it’s one of the main reasons why they’re missing from classrooms. According to UNESCO, worldwide 131 million girls are out of school — and 100 million of those are girls of high school age. There could be many reasons for this, but periods play a major role.
For the past two years, GenZet- a youth empowerment non-profit organisation has provided schoolgirls who do not have access to feminine hygiene products with sanitary pads. GenZet was founded in 2018 and it was established to be a catalyst of change for the youth in townships.
Nozipho Ngoma co-founded the non-profit organisation and emphasizes that the main focus of the organisation is to help young girls and boys at school with basic needs, to uplift them and give them extra skills.
“There is nothing that is more demotivating and strips a person of their dignity such as poverty. We have interacted with young girls and in the conversations we have had, we found out that because of their lack of proper sanitary care young girls use socks, face cloths, small towels, grass and even plastic packets which are both ineffective and germ-infested. Our motivation to provide sanitary towels is to allow girls the opportunity to be present and focused in the classroom,” said Nozipho Ngoma.
Apart from the cost of menstrual pads, stigma plays a major role in preventing girls from continuing their education past puberty and this was one of the factors that contributed to the inception of the GenZet self-love self-empowerment workshops. These workshops serve as a safe space to help girls build their confidence, self-esteem, and resilience. The workshops cover everything from helping girls find their inner beauty, to managing friendships and even developing vision boards. In these sessions they encourage the young girls to become critical thinkers and make their own conclusions rather than prescribing to them what to do, the focus is on motivating and enabling them.
“We work closely with schools in Mamelodi and Attridgeville and we hope to grow our reach and work with the Department of Education soon. We would like to offer more to communities such as building toilets and assisting with the mission to get rid of pit latrines. The future looks amazing for GenZet and even brighter for the young boys and girls we will influence.” she said.