Soul City Institute joins menstrual justice activists in demanding accountability for the ongoing period poverty in South Africa

We as the Soul City Institute for Social Justice lift our hands in support of the end to period poverty in South Africa. Period poverty, which is the lack of menstrual products such as pads, tampons or cups, is a consequence of gender inequality and affects the health and wellbeing of many menstruating people in South Africa and across the globe. For those still in school, it is compounded by the disruption to their education.

As we walk in solidarity and unity against period poverty today, to hand over a memorandum to the Department of Women, Youth and People Living with Disabilities at the Union Buildings in Pretoria, we acknowledge the advocacy that has brought us this far.

For years, activists and civil society organisations have demanded and lobbied government to address period poverty in South Africa. Through campaigns such as #FreeToBleed, which is championed by our Communications Manager Pontsho Pilane since 2015. Pilane presented a policy brief in Parliament urging government departments to work together to address this in a multifaceted manner.

“Period poverty widens the gap between those who menstruate and those that don’t. Menstruators are unable to fully participate in society because of the lack of access to period products which should be provided for free because menstruation is a natural occurrence which should not be a reason for inequality,” says Phinah Kodisang, the CEO of Soul City Institute.

“The inaccessibility of these products is an injustice. It is a political issue, a humanitarian issue, it is a human rights issue and requires resources invested to address the ripple effect this has on the lives of women.”

While the Institute recognises the removal of the Value Added Tax on sanitary products implemented in 2019, other menstrual products are still taxed. Additionally, the Sanitary Dignity Policy Framework which was developed under the Department of Women, Youth and People Living with Disabilities is yet to address people who menstruate who are not in schools, such as the homeless and unemployed youth.

Pilane: “I started the #FreeToBleed campaign to address the menstrual injustice for learners, but it has grown beyond that. Menstrual justice is a feminist issue, it’s about the continued ways in which patriarchy is institutionalised and upheld through the lack of political will.”

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