Girls miss school because of menstruation: Pohamba

WINDHOEK: First Lady Penehupifo Pohamba says thousands of Namibian girls are unable to attend school for days every month when they menstruate.

Pohamba said this in Windhoek on Tuesday, during the handing-over of over 3 200 packets of sanitary pads and 1 500 boxes of tampons with a total value of N.dollars 40 000 by Pick ‘n Pay Namibia to Oxygen Communications.

The latter company will distribute the products to girls attending Government high schools.

“The absence from school because of menstruation is caused by financial challenges. Asking for money from parents for these matters is also considered a taboo, because it is deemed to be of a sexual nature,” she said.

Pohamba, who was the guest of honour at the event, said some girls resort to extreme measures to obtain money for sanitary products, such as finding “sugar daddies”.

Those who cannot obtain the funds for such products use toilet paper or strips of newspaper, or cloths.

She stressed that the risk of infection for girls who use these unhygienic products is very high and detrimental to their health and well-being.

The shame associated with being embarrassed should their clothes get stained while menstruating at school also forces the learners to stay out of school.

“We deem it critical to empower girls by eliminating barriers to go to school so that they can excel and complete school education,” the First Lady said.

She furthermore indicated that educating girls reduces infant and maternal mortality, encourages more widely-spaced childbirths and improves the quality of life for families.

“In order to achieve Vision 2030, we have to fulfil our responsibility to provide for needy children and empower women,” Pohamba continued.

Oxygen Communications Managing Director Hilda Basson Namundjebo initiated the donation process by approaching Pick ‘n Pay Namibia.

Oxygen Communications is a Namibian company focusing in communication services such branding, marketing and advertising.

Pick ‘n Pay has pledged to make a similar donation for the next five years.

The event was also attended by Pick ‘n Pay Namibia buyer Russmere Combrinck; Pick ‘n Pay Namibia Managing Director Henry Feris and Deputy Minister of Education Silvia Makgone, as well as life skills teachers from various schools in the capital.