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January 9, 2020 By Dhesan Govender 8 Comments

Upskilling Disadvantaged Women With Reusable Pad Manufacturing Skills

 

Research by the United Nations confirms that 1 in 10 girls in Africa miss school during menstruation. In South Africa alone, 30% of young impoverished girls miss school during their menstrual cycles due to limited or no access to sanitary products. This appalling reality is known as ‘period poverty’, which refers to a lack of access to sanitary protection and menstrual hygiene education.

Period poverty is a debilitating concern for all developing countries because the lack of menstrual hygiene products inflicts indignity upon disadvantaged young girls, as disposable sanitary products are prohibitively unaffordable making it difficult to maintain good menstrual hygiene. This perpetuates a culture of continued girl absenteeism in schools and increased dropout rates. When girls stay in school, they are less likely to resort in unprotected sex when at home which minimizes their chances of contracting HIV/AIDS and reducing teenage pregnancy rates. Furthermore, decreasing period poverty will increase the number of women in the workplace.

To be able to do this, the Afribiz Foundation has for the past five years specialised in manufacturing the Kuhle Pads, which are reusable sanitary products that provide sustainability for disadvantaged girls in no fee-paying schools. The foundation also raises funds to educate and provide reusable sanitary towels to girls in school not only to maintain their attendance in school but also to give them a sense of dignity by raising their self-esteem and confidence whilst on their period. This comes at a time where the country’s unemployment rate is far higher for women than for men at all ages, with 54% of young women being unemployed.

To aid in reducing the unemployment rate and to empower young girls in schools, the foundation recruits young women from disadvantaged communities and trains them in manufacturing skills to produce the Kuhle Pad. These women are taught from scratch how to make the reusable sanitary towel by hand from stitching, cutting right through to the packaging of the product.

The HWSETA has funded more than R1,6 million to the foundation to train 50 young women from Msinga in Kwazulu Natal and 50 from various townships in Johannesburg, Gauteng. The training will run for 5 months and will thus provide skills to disadvantaged women who are unable to further their education. “We hope to achieve a life cycle of trained females where we are able to employ and provide women with the means to better themselves within their communities, for their communities”, commented Kacha Stepanovic, Afribiz’ Managing Director. “Our pads are 100% safe and sustainable, not only for girls but for our environment too, HWSETA’s support in this project helps not only to keep young girls in school but also to empower women to upskill themselves through this worthy project and our country as a whole. We are proud to say that this project is inspired by the girl child, run by women and will benefit our future female leaders of tomorrow”, concludes Stepanovic.

The Kuhle Pads are reusable and biodegradable into the earth as opposed to sanitary pads that are disposable yet have a life span of 100 years on land.

The project beneficiaries will also receive training in entrepreneurship, health and safety processes, machinery and material knowledge, customer service and further funded to obtain their learners and driving licences. “Our contribution in this project is two-fold, skilling these women empowers them socially and financially as they’ll be able to generate income for themselves to sustain their families while concurrently enabling positive change amongst disadvantaged girls in rural communities to continue going to school – allowing them to fully participate in society,” commented Luyanda Lokwe, HWSETA’s Project Manager in the Skills Development and Planning division. “Moreover, once they have completed the training they would have acquired skills that they can use to create employment for themselves,” concluded Lokwe.

With skills development being a core mandate for the HWSETA, we continuously place at the forefront of all projects considerable emphasis on bettering the lives of all South Africans through people development.

8 Comments

  1. Dorothy Sibongile Sandana
    Dorothy Sibongile Sandana
    19th February 2020 reply

    I wish to thank you HWSETA doe this block as a Stakeholder, I am taken aback coming from a very disadvantaged community Hammsrsdale Mpumalnaga in KZN.We have a lot of white elephant governmemt&private building that I can ask from our manucipal Manager to utilise one of them for this project. I am however interested in this project in getting training and take to the community that need ot most, to sustain themselves and give hope to our people. Fortunately I am registered Stakeholder with HWSETA as n NPC.

    • Wendy Tembe
      Wendy Tembe
      20th February 2020 reply

      Dear Dorothy

      Please advise on how would you like HWSETA to assist you.

      Thank you
      Regards

      • Emmah
        Emmah
        3rd August 2021 reply

        Hi, I would like to learn how to manufacture re-usable pads.
        Thanks,
        Emmah

        • Wendy Tembe
          Wendy Tembe
          4th August 2021 reply

          Dear Emmah

          Kindly note that contact FP & M SETA for advise, on the following email address if they accredit companies offering this programme.

          E-mail address: LuntuP@fpmseta.org.za

          Trust you will find this note in order.

          Thank you
          Regards

  2. Balungile
    Balungile
    22nd July 2021 reply

    I’m interested in Sanitary Towels manufacturing training. I am based in Germiston.

    • Wendy Tembe
      Wendy Tembe
      23rd July 2021 reply

      Dear Balungile
      Kindly look out for such opportunities when they are advertised by employers, HWSETA does not train or recruit learners for any funded programmes. HWSETA advertise funding to HWSETA registered Employers on an annual basis and once they are approved for funding they advertise to recruit learners.

      Trust you will find this note in order.

      Thank you
      regards

  3. Marjon
    Marjon
    25th July 2021 reply

    I would like to sponsor a disadvantaged lady to do a course like this to sustain herself and the community and women. Where can I send her for training?

    • Wendy Tembe
      Wendy Tembe
      29th July 2021 reply

      Dear Marjon

      Please note that such Providers are not accredited by HWSETA. Kindly enquire with the Fibre Processing & Manufacturing SETA (FP& M) if they have the list of such providers.
      Email address :info@fpmseta.org.za

      Trust you will find this note in order.

      Thank you
      Regards

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