While the start of the school year brings with it feelings of excitement for many youngsters, it is also accompanied by feelings of trepidation for a large portion of young South Africans who have no access to sanitary wear.
“Back-to-school preparations are often associated with stationery and school uniforms but we would really like to highlight the massive need there is for sanitary products as well,” explained Sue Barnes, founder of Subz Pants and Pads as well as its CSI extension, Project Dignity. “We’ve been inundated with calls from schools across KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape for donations of Subz Pants and Pads because of the dire situation for so many young women.”
The reality for many girls of schoolgoing age is that financial or logistical hindrances prevent them from accessing sanitary pads. This means that for about a week every month – about 25% of the school year on average – these youngsters cannot attend school. Even for those who can access sanitary pads, the dire lack of hygiene facilities at many schools makes dealing with menstruation extremely difficult.
“The long-term negative impact on the education of these youngsters is detrimental to their future,” said Barnes. “What makes it even more tragic is the fact that the simple donation of a pack of Subz Pants and Pads to one South African schoolgirl can effectively change the outcome of her schooling career and future prospects.”
While disposable sanitary products provide a short-term solution, they need to be constantly replenished resulting in increasing costs and environmental degradation. When Barnes, a KwaZulu-Natal resident, was confronted with this problem years back, she decided to find a sustainable solution. This led to the creation of Subz Pants and Pads, a reusable sanitary pad and accompanying cotton panty which can last the user anywhere from three to five years – essentially a high school career.
Because the driving force behind the creation of Subz Pants and Pads is empowering young women in disadvantaged communities, Barnes established the non-profit organisation, Project Dignity.
Through this organisation, thousands of young women have received donations of Subz packs, allowing them to attend school without future concerns about sanitary products. Project Dignity relies on donations from individuals, fellow NGOs and corporates to undertake school activations, educating youngsters on puberty and menstruation and handing out these life-changing packs.
Despite having distributed thousands of Subz packs to schools across South Africa the past eight years – including more than 80 schools in 2017 – the need for donations keeps growing.
“We are calling out to any individuals or organisations that would like to make a real impact on the lives of young South Africans at the start of this school year, to consider donating Subz packs through Project Dignity,” said Barnes. “The need is so great, and every contribution helps.”
For more information on how to donate, visit www.subzpads.co.za