Gauteng Department of Social Development and P&G commit to providing sanitary towels and puberty education for 500 schools over five years
Department calls on other corporates to join them in supporting this cause
Johannesburg, 3 October 2017 – The MEC of the Gauteng Department of Social Development, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza, today announced the department’s commitment to supporting the education of female learners through a programme that ensures girls have access to sanitary towels and puberty education. The initiative aims to reach girls in 500 schools in the province over the next five years and the Department is calling on companies to partner with them in this commitment.
One of these corporates is Procter & Gamble (P&G), whose Always Keeping Girls in School (AKGIS) programme has reached 150,000 girls in South Africa and Kenya in the past ten years. The initiative involves giving puberty education and dispensing sanitary towels to underprivileged girls to ensure that they do not miss school when they have their periods. The Department of Social Development recently endorsed this programme and will now be actively mobilising resources to assist in the rollout of the AKGIS initiative to needy schools from quintiles one to three over the next five years. The Department will also be involved in monitoring and evaluating the programme, while the Footprints Foundation will be the implementing partner of the initiative.
“Always Keeping Girls in School reflects P&G’s commitment to gender equality and corporate citizenship,” says Khululiwe Mabaso, Director of Corporate Communications & Government Relations for Sub-Saharan Africa at P&G. “We are aware that education is a vital tool to help girls and women achieve equality. However, a 2012 World Bank Report found that boys in Africa remain 1.5 times more likely to complete secondary education than girls. One of the factors that has been identified as a primary cause of school absenteeism is menstruation. Girls in the developing world can be absent from school for up to four days a month due to their periods, which means that, over a period of five years, they could miss up to 30 weeks of school out of a total of 180, leading them to fail or drop out altogether. We want to ensure that this doesn’t happen.”
In addition, a large part of the AKGIS initiative focuses on empowering these girls through puberty education. Research by the University of Cape Town has found that puberty education is key in helping to reduce school absenteeism. Young female mentors meet with the girls and educate them about health issues, particularly puberty hygiene, how to take care of themselves, and their rights. Building the self-esteem of these teenagers is also a key priority, as the uncertainty that comes with puberty can erode girls’ confidence. P&G maintains that providing girls with support, accurate knowledge and confidence empowers them to make better decisions.
One of the individuals who has benefited from The AKGIS programme is 17-year-old Palesa Botha, who spoke at the Department’s breakfast launch today. She is a Grade 12 learner at Itirele-Zenzele High School in Diepsloot. “The Always Keeping Girls in School Programme has helped me and my classmates a lot. It gives us information about puberty that I didn’t know before. Also, many of us had to miss school when we had our periods as our parents usually can’t afford sanitary pads, and it can be embarrassing to go to school in case you have an accident. The programme gives us pads every month, which means we don’t have to miss school. This is even more important now that we are in Grade 12 and need to get good marks to continue our education at tertiary institutions. I hope to study an LLB at Nelson Mandela University next year.”
The MEC of the Gauteng Department of Social Development, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza, concludes, “This year, our premier, the honourable Mr David Makhura, launched a campaign to invest in the girl child and to empower young women. One of the objectives of the campaign is upscaling the sanitary dignity campaign to reach one million girls by 2019. We are far from reaching the target, hence we asked you to join us here today. Government alone cannot adequately address the needs of our people; we need strong partnerships with you to reach our communities for a prosperous society. I’m delighted that the partnerships we call for today will come from generous hearts that will give freely and with love to our girl children. We greatly appreciate our partner, Procter & Gamble.”
Issued by Hill+Knowlton Strategies. For more information, please contact:
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