May 28 marks Menstrual Hygiene Day. It is a day to promote good menstrual health and hygiene management, and break stigmas that exist around menstruators. Many menstruators around the world and in South Africa struggle with access to menstrual products and proper hygiene facilities. On this day, we recognise the organisations working to ensure menstruators have access to their menstrual rights.
Project Dignity is an organisation that aims to use existing networks of community educators and Life Orientation Teachers to raise awareness around menstruation. The organisation distributes Subz Pants and Pads products to young girls aged 10-19 years. They also host one-hour workshops run in primary and high schools by qualified community educators. The community educators engage pupils in open dialogue on the topics of reproductive health, menstruation, feminine hygiene and sanitary wear. The main objective of Project Dignity is to de-stigmatise, raise awareness and empower young girls to remain in school.
Qrate is an NGO based in Johannesburg. The organisation focuses on “curating critical thinking in young people through educational publications & workshops on social topics.” One of the flagship programmes the organisation runs are menstruation workshops at schools and other organisations. Through their work the organisation facilitates workshops around menstruation education and hygiene. Candice Chirwa, known affectionately on social media as the “minister of menstruation” is the director of Qrate. Through the programme, she runs along with other facilitators, they teach young people that menstruation is not something that one should be ashamed of. They involve school students, parents and teachers to broaden their understanding of menstruation.
The Pad Run
The Pad Run is an NPO aimed at eradicating period poverty and educating the youth on menstruation. They run charity drives and donation runs to collect funds to buy sanitary products. These products are then donated to menstruators who are most in need of the products. Farah Fortune, CEO of African Star Communications, started the campaign as a birthday project in 2020. Fortune told KFM that: “The Pad Run is an initiative to restore dignity for young women and girls who miss out on opportunities and simple everyday tasks due to no access to sanitary ware and even less information to menstrual health.”
The Siyasizana Foundation
The Siyasizana Foundation was established in 2017. They focus on health, personal care, hygiene, education and fun. The foundation prioritises children as they believe primary-level help can pave the way to a better and brighter future. They work on many different projects. One of those is related to menstruation, health and education. They collect sanitary products to distribute to menstruators. The foundation says the need for menstrual hygiene products is one that always exists as the fight for cheaper and more accessible menstrual products continues. Instagram influencer Dineo Nono, alongside YouTuber and content creator, Mihlali Ndamase are the founders of the organisation.
The Cora Project
The CORA Project (CORA) is a women-led non-profit organisation. Their mission is to support menstruators from underprivileged communities in South Africa. CORA educates communities on menstruation and raises awareness and encourages discussions around periods. The project provides them with the knowledge and resources to end period poverty. They seek to normalise the rhetoric around periods, and eliminate period stigma and shaming. They’ve hosted menstrual health workshops in Cape Town teaching both girls and boys about menstruation.