WOMEN’s organisations have decried failure by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube to address “menstrual poverty” among girls and women who are failing to access affordable sanitary wear.

Ncube last week announced a $929 billion supplementary budget.

Sanitary Aid Zimbabwe executive director Theresa Nyava-Machadu told source that Ncube failed to announce measures to afford females access to good reproductive health as stated in Section 76(1) of the Constitution. “Section 3(1a) of the Education Act also mandates government to provide all school girls with sanitary wear and proper menstrual hygiene facilities in line with the Constitution. This is indispensable in order to foster the dignity of women and girls, and to ensure that they enjoy their rights and freedoms,” Machadu said.

“Sadly, the mid-term budget statement did not announce any measures to address menstrual poverty, despite the fact that inflation is now very high at 257%, compared to 54% when the 2022 budget was announced last year. Period poverty is worsening,”

She said Ncube could have announced measures such as free sanitary wear for vulnerable women and school girls.

“We urge Parliament to enact a Free Menstrual Products and Services Act, which seeks to make the provision of free sanitary wear a legal requirement to all vulnerable women and girls,” she added.

Shamwari yeMwanasikana advocacy and research co-ordinator Rudo Mangwanyata said: “It’s quite disheartening and sad looking at how we were making noise and encouraging government to ensure that we fight menstrual poverty together. We call upon government and the Ministry of Finance to restructure the budget and make Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of young girls a priority and protect their future.”

Ignite Youth Organisation director Tadzie Madzima called for a reduction in tax on sanitary wear imports.

“Local production needs to be ramped up with training of girls living in rural communities to enable them to manufacture environmentally friendly products,” Madzima said.

Ministry of Finance spokesperson Clive Mphambela, however, said the 2022 National Budget had a sanitary wear fund.

“It was actually a big issue in Parliament. Former legislator Priscilla Misihairambwi championed that and I know that resources were set aside for that. In the mid-term budget we may not have vocalised it, but certainly in vote adjustments for that particular ministry, they took into account the current levels of inflation because all budget votes of all ministries had adjustments,” Mphambela said.

A snap survey by source yesterday revealed that the cheapest packet of 10 sanitary pads costs between $1 000 and $2 000, while very expensive brands are costing as much as US$10 pack.

Source Newsday