A formal document demanding that the institution provide free sanitary towels to women on campus is expected to be handed over to Vice Chancellor Adam Habib by a group of Wits University students.
The petition for free sanitary towels on campus was signed by thousands of students and it constitutes part of two campaigns which have made progress this week. Both signed documents have been addressed to Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi.
The second campaign is an online petition brought forward by Livity Africa, which presents a plea to the government to make the hygiene product more accessible to girls in low-income areas of the country.
An activist and Livity Africa’s Pontsho Pilane spoke on the matter saying “Women’s bodies are disregarded, particularly black women’s bodies, when you look at the socio-economic status and who is poor, and who can afford what in this country. Why aren’t sanitary towels free or more accessible? If it was an issue that government was taking seriously it would be something that would have already happened.”
An estimated seven million girls miss school for some days every month because of lack of access to hygiene products to take care of themselves during that time of the month. Livity Africa’s Pontsho Pilane says more research needs to be done on the issue and possibly reach out to other countries.
The campaign for free sanitary towels on campus kicked off earlier this month and has since attracted the support of nearly 1,500 members of staff and students under the slogan “Worth Bleeding For”.
In addition to providing free sanitary towels, the campaign group is also calling on government to do away with a ‘tampon tax’ which is the major cause of the hygiene products becoming increasingly unaffordable for South African women.
The sales tax applied to sanitary products has faced a lot of challenges in the past all to no avail.