In addition to providing fun and exercise for thousands of women, the SPAR Women’s Challenge will play an important role in achieving its community objectives when it takes place in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
This year part of the race entry fee will be donated to the Sanitary Sistas initiative, which was started by the PE branch of the Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa to provide schoolgirls with much-needed monthly sanitary products.
The Women’s Challenge, which is preceded by the Kids’ Challenge on Wednesday, will take place on Saturday at Pollok Beach in Summerstrand. The 10km and 5km events traditionally attract close to 10 000 entrants.
The Sanitary Sistas initiative ties in with the company’s philosophy of contributing to various sectors of society and SPAR Eastern Cape sponsorships and events manager Alan Stapleton said this was an important cause to support.
“We are using the SPAR Women’s Challenge to raise awareness of the need to change mindsets towards how people use plastic, but there are other objectives as well,” he said.
“By supporting the Sanitary Sistas project we hope to contribute to a cause which is so real to women in South Africa and Port Elizabeth.”
He added that the team responsible for the initiative would be positioned at the registration tent and anyone wanting to drop off products with them when they registered was welcome to do so.
Renee Whittal of the BWA CSI/Youth Outreach task team, who assist in co-ordinating the programme, said it was estimated that at least 60% of South African girls and women could not afford to purchase any form of sanitary protection.
“As a consequence young girls may lose up to 50 days of schooling per year in an already pressurised education system,” she said.
She added that Sanitary Sistas was the team’s flagship initiative, which they would like to grow through community support.
“Our target is Grade 5, 6 and 7 pupils who do not have any other access to sanitary protection and our aim is to ensure that they have sufficient supplies of sanitary towels so as not to miss any schooldays.”
Whittal said it made sense to help schoolgirls – the businesswomen of tomorrow – given the BWA’s objective of providing a platform for the inspiration and empowerment of women.
The BWA in PE supports the following six primary schools in the Port Elizabeth area – Colchester, De Vos Malan, Missionvale, Sapphire Road, Seyisi and Walmer.
The organisation, said Whittal, focused only on six schools at this stage to allow it to fully support their needs all year, rather than sporadically donating products to more schools.
For more information on the SPAR Women’s Challenge, go to www.sparec.co.za.