Period poverty is a term used to describe the inability of individuals to access menstrual products, hygiene facilities, or information about menstruation due to financial constraints or lack of resources. It is a widespread issue that affects many women and girls globally, especially those living in low-income communities. However, one activist who is making a significant impact in the fight against period poverty is teenage Simran Sahib.
Simran Sahib is a 17-year-old South African student and activist who gained continental attention for her campaign to end period poverty. She founded The Legacy Gala , after learning that many girls in Africa were missing school due to their inability to afford menstrual products. Sahib was shocked and angered by the issue, as she believed that no girl should have to miss out on her education because of her period.
The Legacy Gala aims to bridge the social gap by providing underprivileged girls the opportunity to be treated to an evening of glitz and glam in aid of raising funds. These newly formed bonds and friendships will be based on support and women empowerment.
“In South Africa alone period poverty affects up to 7 million South African girls who do not have access to or cannot afford to buy sanitary products. This has serious repercussions with an estimated 30% of South African schoolgirls unable to attend class while on their period.” Says Simran
The Legacy Gala is supported by various celebrities and high profile individuals all over the world. At last year’s Legacy Gala event, ambassadors of various countries around the world attended the event as well as global and local celebrities.
While many African countries have recognized the problem of period poverty, the policies and interventions to address it vary by country. Here are some of the government policies and initiatives in Africa to fight period poverty:
- Elimination of VAT on menstrual products: Some African countries, such as Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania, have eliminated value-added tax (VAT) on menstrual products to make them more affordable and accessible to all women.
- Provision of free menstrual products in schools: In some countries like South Africa, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, the government has started to provide free menstrual products in schools to ensure that girls are not forced to miss school due to lack of access to menstrual products.
- Implementation of menstrual hygiene education: Many African governments are implementing menstrual hygiene education programs in schools to increase awareness about menstrual health and provide girls with information on how to manage their periods safely and hygienically.
- Establishment of menstrual hygiene management facilities: Some countries, such as Rwanda, are constructing menstrual hygiene management facilities in public places, including schools and health centres, to ensure that girls have access to clean and safe toilets and can manage their periods with dignity.
- Investment in local production of menstrual products: Some African governments are investing in local production of menstrual products to increase access to affordable and sustainable menstrual products. For example, the Ethiopian government has established a factory to produce reusable sanitary pads.
Overall, there is still a long way to go in addressing period poverty in Africa, but these policies and initiatives are a step in the right direction towards achieving menstrual equity and breaking the stigma around menstruation.
Governments around Africa still require activists and humanitarians like Simran to be able to achieve their objectives. Sahib plans to impact the lives of millions before she turns 21.
“I want to empower our youth and our women to dream big and know that anything is possible, with a lot of hard work, consistency and grace you can take over the world.” Says Sahib
To support The Legacy Gala follow @legacygalasa on Instagram