Girls in Seychelles to receive free sanitary products, relieving pressure on families
Sanitary products will be made available free of charge to all girls in Seychelles in both state and private secondary schools as of the new school year in January 2022.
This move by the government follows a motion in the National Assembly calling on the government to start looking into making monthly hygiene and sanitary products for women and girls more affordable. The motion also commits the government to ensuring that women and girls who cannot afford to buy these products can obtain them free of charge.
President Wavel Ramkalawan announced the measure in a special address to commemorate his first year in office late last month, saying that the government had listened and responded to the motion.
“The government took the motion brought by Hon Regina Esparon on the young girls and women seriously when you asked that government facilitates that young girls get provided with sanitary products,” the head of state explained.
When tabling the motion in September, Esparon said with the difficult economic situation prevailing in the country, many families with multiple teenage girls are finding it difficult to find the money to buy hygiene products.
“These products are necessities for women and this motion touches a subject that affects more than half the population of Seychelles, as in the country, the population of women is higher than that of men,” said Esparon.
She urged the government, in partnership with the private sector, to look at how the price of these commodities can be reduced. She also asked the government to look at the possibility to make menstrual hygiene products freely accessible in schools and at the maternity ward.
The motion was brought forth after the Ladies Circle Seychelles started a petition requesting that Seychelles changes the laws that allow for hygiene sanitary pads to be accessible and free to all women in the island nation. The petition was initiated on March 8 this year, on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
In the petition, the non-for-profit organisation said “women’s hygiene products are not free yet menstruation or bleeding forms part of a women’s biology. We have no choice in how we bleed, when we bleed, how painful it will be and when it will stop.”
The Seychelles Trading Company which is government-owned has partnered with a private company and is expected to distribute the sanitary towels to all girls in all secondary schools of the island nation every month.
This latest move comes after earlier last October, the 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean was ranked highly for governments’ friendliness towards girls. The Girl-Friendliness Index is a rights-based statistical tool and conceptual framework anchored on three pillars of children’s rights, namely, protection, provision and participation.
Launched by the African Child Policy Forum, the report analyses the status of girls on the continent, how friendly governments are towards girls, and the extent to which they meet their legal obligations.
According to the index in building on the protection of girls’ rights and interests, governments must ensure access to provisions for girls, namely, sanitation, sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services, education, and others which are of paramount importance to their development.
Report findings indicate that access to adequate healthcare is lacking in many African countries, particularly SRH services, in addition to education and nutritious food.