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Speech by Premier- Sanitary towels campaign

Speech by the Premier of the Northern Cape, Ms Hazel Jenkins, on the occasion of the official launch of the sanitary towels/pads campaign, 07 December 2010, John Taolo Gaetsewe Region, Heuningvlei.

Programme Director

Members of the Executive Council

The Mayor of John Taolo Gaetsewe District Municipality, Councillor Benjamin Gaobusiwe

The Mayor Joe Morolong Municipality, Councillor TL Seikaneng

Honourable Councillors

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

We are here today to officially announce the launch of the sanitary towels/pads campaign in the Northern Cape Province that is primarily aimed to restore the dignity and self esteem of our girl children and women.

We are launching this campaign during the period of 16 Days of Activism on No Violence against Women and Children with a greater resolve and determination to mobilise all the people of our country to act against violence and abuse, as well as to promote a healthy lifestyle for the girl child.

The sixteen days campaign focuses primarily on generating an increased awareness of the negative impact of violence on women and children as well as society as a whole.

Through the launch of the sanitary towel campaign we are complementing the efforts to protect and promote the interests of the girl child. We are taking the well-being of the girl child particularly seriously and to help needy girls to go to school without worrying about their monthly cycle.

This initiative will equip the girls with an all round education which will help them serve as role models and agents of change in their local environments. It would also empower them and improve their status in their individual families and communities.

Furthermore the campaign is targeted at the general public to raise awareness and demand action, because we believe that it is not an individual female problem but a societal matter.

Programme Director, as a caring and people centred government under the leadership of the African National Congress, we decided to take up the challenge after we have learnt from the commendable initiatives undertaken by the ANC Youth League, Young Communist League and the SABC to create a gender responsive school environment.

According to a survey and report conducted on the Girl Child, a girl is absent from school due to menses for 4 to 5 days in every 28 days (a month) thereby losing three weeks of learning every school term. A key finding pointed to something that no policy maker had previously identified.

During menstruation, girls refused to go to school because there were no appropriate or adequate sanitation facilities. Because of the high cost of sanitary towels, girls from poor families continue to use unhygienic sponges, mattresses, tissue paper and even cotton– and most avoid school all together during their menstrual period.

Along with the lost learning days, girls, not surprisingly, lose self-confidence, and their chance of rising to the top of their class drops further each month.

Programme Director, the aim of the project is to reduce by 90% absenteeism from school by providing sanitary towels to needy girls. Without the success of this project, our Province and Country is unlikely to achieve Education for All (EFA) Goals, Gender Parity by the year 2015 and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

This project must provide Sanitary Towels to thousands of girls in various schools in the province, especially targeting our rural communities who live miles away from shops and training the girls on how to use them.

An important aspect of the campaign emphasized that young people want to be given a chance because they have ideas, determination and energy to accelerate effective action to reduce poverty and inequality. Further emphasis is on the need to do more to meet the goals of youth friendly services, especially to provide sexual and reproductive health information and services for young people.

It is my belief that we will be able to take the sanitary towel campaign to even higher levels from now onwards to provide the girls with an uninterrupted education; encourage cleanliness, which would in turn promote confidence and self esteem.

It is the priority of this government to bring more stakeholders into this campaign so that we march together to ensure that our girl child achieves complete freedom and enjoy fulfilling lives. No institution should be left behind, including our media as a critical social partner.

This public launch will surely help to de-stigmatise the issue and assist girls to break their silence on other sexual and reproductive health issues.

It is envisaged that this campaign will mentor schoolgirls on sexual maturation and their rights, as well as helping demystify the use of sanitary towels in communities that had previously refused to stock them in shops

I would also like to take this opportunity to express our sincere appreciation to our partners SABC, ABSA, ANC Youth League and the Young Communist League for their unwavering commitment to contribute towards the success of this laudable campaign.

We would also like to encourage our partners in the private sector to join us in our quest to make a difference in the lives of young girls and women who are deprived and cannot afford sanitary towels.

Together, let us create a caring society that loves its women and children.

I thank you
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