Faculty takes the lead in empowering young female students

Belinda Bantham -- Mon, 09/17/2018 - 14:30

Faculty takes the lead in empowering young female students

It was the late Kofi Annan who said that the empowerment of women is the most effective tool for the development of any nation. With this in mind, members of the North-West University’s (NWU’s) Faculty of Education in Vanderbijlpark are hard at work to ensure that no young lady needs to skip class because of her period and a lack of sanitary products.

What started out as a project for Women’s Day, has yielded such great response that the faculty is extending its Charity Begins at Home Programme. The aim of the programme is not only to raise awareness about sustainable, washable sanitary pads and panties, but also motivate members of the university community to sponsor needy students with such products. 

“We decided to focus on reusable sanitary products because it offers a long term – three to five years – solution opposed to collecting normal sanitary products that will only make an impact over two or three months,” explains Dr Küng, the acting deputy director of the School of Professional Studies in Education.

For a donation of R153 the faculty will be able to put together a sanitary management pack consisting of a two cotton panties, three standard sized pads and one extra-long pad. These patented pads are designed by SUBZ, a KwaZulu-Natal based company. It consists of five layers of hydrophilic fabric, which wicks moisture away from the body.

According to Dr Küng, the programme has been met with “great enthusiasm” by both staff and students and more than R13 763 has been raised thus far. “We are well on our way to achieve our target, and only need another R1 537 to reach the goal we set for ourselves,” says Dr Küng.

A reality that keeps young women from attending class

She furthermore says that unfortunately for many students the price of sanitary products are just too high and as such they are forced to use unhygienic methods to manage their menstrual cycle or revert to absenteeism. “Unfortunately, in South Africa the decision whether to buy a loaf of bread to feed grumbling stomachs, or a sanity pad to manage a young girl’s period is commonly made amongst households struggling to survive. And more often than not, the stomach wins,” says Dr Küng and adds that this problem is also a dire reality at university level.

A challenge to the NWU family and the greater community

“We would like to challenge the other campuses, our student populace and our staff fraternity to join us in making a real difference in the lives of our female students,” says Dr Küng and adds that not being able to access sanitary products, leads to a decline in students’ attendance and ultimately affects their academic performance. “Let’s gift young women with the gift of dignity, and by doing so empower young women to reach their full potential,” says Dr Küng.

For more information please liaise with Dr Küng by sending her an email at elize.kung@nwu.ac.za .