Stellenbosch University (SU) has taken a significant step towards eradicating period poverty by recently installing state-of-the-art sanitary pad dispensing machines on campus.
The installation was made possible by the generous financial support of a UK-based donor.
According to the university, two units have been installed on the Stellenbosch campus, and a third unit will be set up on the Tygerberg campus in Bellville in the coming weeks.
In South Africa, period poverty affects more than seven million young women, forcing many to choose between buying food or sanitary products. Many female students at SU also share this experience, lacking sufficient resources to access these products, which in turn unduly impacts their education, physical health, and mental well-being.
To tackle this issue on SU’s campuses, the Development and Alumni Relations Division launched the #EndPeriodPoverty initiative as part of the University’s Bridge The Gap Annual Fund (BTG).
The campaign #EndPeriodPoverty aims to raise funds to purchase sanitary pad dispensing machines to address the stigma around menstruation and provide students with dignified access to female hygiene products.
“For the pilot phase, we have opted to purchase two large dispensing machines for our Stellenbosch campus that will dispense a total of 1 000 packs of pads a month and a smaller machine for our Tygerberg campus that will dispense 100 packs a month.
“Each pack contains eight locally manufactured, biodegradable sanitary pads. The machines will be refilled on a monthly basis,” says Viwe Benxa, Alumni Relations Co-ordinator and BTG ambassador.
“Our students will be able to access the pads by tapping their student identity cards. In using the student identity card, we will be able to track the usage and determine the demand for the products which will subsequently inform our decision to make more machines available at more locations on our campuses.”
The dispensing machines are strategically located in areas easily accessible to female students. For the Stellenbosch campus, the two locations are the Jan Mouton Learning Centre and outside the Tinie Louw Hall.
“We are hoping to raise enough funds for the next two installations earmarked for our Saldanha campus,” Mr Benxa adds.
To support this initiative the public can visit www.givengain.com/cc/end-period-poverty/