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Disadvantaged school girls lack hygiene items

Some parties have added to their campaigns the free distribution of hygiene products for girls.

Some parties have added to their campaigns the free distribution of hygiene products for girls. Picture: Renee de Villiers/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Girls from many poor communities face a regular problem that is often not discussed openly.

Some miss school when they have their menstrual periods because they can't afford to buy sanitary towels.

This year the free distribution of these hygiene products has made it onto some parties' election agenda s.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)'s Nazier Paulsen says the party drew up its election manifesto after consulting with poor communities.

"We've discovered in our interaction that young girls say that for them the worst time in winter is when they menstruate and they use newspapers."

The Imbumba Foundation, a non-government organisation involved in distributing sanitary towels, says too often girls miss school because they don't have hygiene products.

The foundation's founder Richard Mabaso says, "It eventually ends up in girls dropping out because once they lose a couple of days of schooling each month, it becomes the norm."

This is a fundamental problem, not only in South Africa but is also prevalent in other parts of the continent.

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