Aiding women cope with menstrual health

The Sunday Mail

Precious Masakara

THE menstrual cup, introduced to cushion under-priviledged women, is facing uptake resistance with most girls believing that they will lose their virginity.

The shape of the cup has also deterred women from using it as they argue that it is uncomfortable, derailing efforts to cushion most from the sky rocketing sanitary wear prices.

During recent International Girl Child Day celebrations held in Hopley, an official with the Agency for Integrated Community Development (AICD), Dr Cosmas Turuza, said more research needed to be done to find out why the cup continued to face such resistance.

“Women might fear discomfort while girls fear losing their virginity after using the menstrual cup. It is worth researching why most women do not use the menstrual cup since its introduction,” said Dr Turuza, the deputy managing trustee for AICD.

The menstrual cup was officially introduced locally through the Ministry of Health and Child Care in 2016.

It is a rubber cup that is inserted into the female organ and placed over the cervix to collect menstrual flow.

With prices of sanitary wear sky rocketing due to inflationary pressures, the menstrual cup was meant to cushion women, mostly those in rural areas who cannot afford regular sanitary wear.

Non-governmental organisations which distributed menstrual cups, pads and clothes in Hopley noted the need to educate women and girls about their reproductive health in order for them to make informed choices.

Runyararo Chibota, founder of the Vessels of Love Foundation, which supports single parents and their children said the menstrual cup could be the solution to sanitary wear challenges as it is cheaper.

“The menstrual cup is cheaper as you can keep it for five years. You can wear it for four hours and clean it without any challenges. Due to the current water crisis, the cups are better than removables (other types of sanitary wear).

“Most of the women in Hopley are using cloths as sanitary wear and they will need to wash them. But the cup is small and does not require much water to be cleaned,” she said.

While the cup seems to be a new invention, it has been in existence since 1937 in the First World and was adopted in the United States in 1987.

Many local women are accustomed to sanitary wear which is placed on their undergarments. The tampoon is another device which has been used.

Tinevimbo Matambanadzo, the director of As I Am Foundation, an NGO which lobbies for girl child empowerment, noted the power of having women who are knowledgeable when it comes to reproductive and mental health.

“We want to educate the girl child more on reproductive and mental health. We want to involve disadvantaged children for their wellness,” she said.

Last year, Government suspended Customs Duty and removed Value Added Tax (VAT) on sanitary wear for the 12-month period to November 2019 to cushion underpriviledged women and girls.

However, early this year local manufacturers of sanitary pads highlighted that they had scaled down operations due to the cost of imported raw materials.