On Thursday afternoon, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) launched the One Million Pads campaign, aimed to assist young girls from primary and high schools, as well as university students, by providing them with sanitary pads.
The project was started by project management student Thabiso Majavu, who told The Daily Vox, “One of the reasons I started the campaign was after realising that there is a serious need for sanitary pads – especially for previously disadvantaged young girls”. The objectives of the campaign are to champion women’s rights to dignity, create awareness, and find sustainable solutions to making pads more accessible.
When it comes to the sustainability of the campaign, the point isn’t to wait to reach the one million pad mark and then distribute them, said Majavu. They collect pads every month, through donations (such as asking everyone who attended the launch to bring along a packet of sanitary products) and fund raising, and distribute them to different schools across South Africa. When visiting the schools, they also give educational talks to young boys and girls on menstruation and puberty.
At the launch, the head of the Institutional Office for HIV and AIDS (IOHA), Rainny Magcai, spoke on behalf of management and showed support for the campaign. Representatives of Dignity Dreams (a project which provides women and girls with with reusable pads) and Mia Pads (who offer sanitary pads and pantyliners) also took to the podium to discuss their support for One Million Pads and describe their own initiatives.
Bokang Montjane, Miss South Africa 2010, spoke at the launch about how pads are a “need and not a luxury.” Khanya Mthethwa, finalist for Miss Commonwealth, was also in attendance and criticised government for not doing its job in providing free sanitary pads. “It’s time that government treats the provision of condoms as it does pads,” she said.
At the launch, Majavu also spoke about finding a final solution, which would be for government to take this issue seriously and provide free pads for everyone. “As I’m saying, sex is voluntary and periods are not optional. It’s not something to choose, to say, no this month I want go onto my period or not,” he said.
The campaign started last year where Majavu’s team provided about 5, 000 pads, mostly to students at UJ. This year they supplied around 15, 000 pads to UJ students and school children in almost all provinces.