QUEEN ‘Masenate Bereng Seeiso has declared war on the shortage of sanitary pads for girls, saying no child should miss school during their menstrual periods.
Speaking during the official launch of Hlokomela Banana at St James High School in Mokhotlong on Friday, Her Majesty said it was worrisome that girl children around the country continued to miss school every month during their menstrual periods.
Hlokomela Banana – Their Freedom, Our Future – is a charity campaign championed by Her Majesty to alleviate the challenges that underprivileged girl children face such as menstrual periods by donating free sanitary pads to 127 000 girls in 370 high schools around the country.
The project also seeks to educate girls on personal hygiene through a booklet titled The Pink Handbook, The Complete Guide To Owning Your Vagina.
At St James High School, Queen ‘Masenate Bereng Seeiso handed over backpacks containing three pockets of sanitary pads, a lunchbox and the booklet to 621 girls. The sanitary pads are expected to last until the end of December this year, with another batch set to be handed over in January 2017.
Addressing the gathering, which also included male students, teachers, representatives of the private sector and government officials, Her Majesty said availing pads and toiletries to learners would enhance their learning environment.
“The importance of education to girls cannot be over emphasized. The provision of education to girls is not merely an intrinsic right, but a catalyst for other developmental objectives,” said Queen ‘Masenate Bereng Seeiso.
Her Majesty said the drop-out rates for girls increased significantly in the higher school grades due to poverty, absenteeism and early child marriages among other factors.
Queen ‘Masenate Bereng Seeiso also revealed the campaign was being undertaken by the Queen National Trust Fund in conjunction with Premier Foods.
“During the 2015 Gala Dinner hosted by the Queen’s National Trust Fund, a pledge was made by Premier Foods to partner with the trust in assisting girls from forms A to E. Fruitful deliberations between the two entities culminated in the project we are proudly launching today,” Her Majesty said.
“It is through this project that the Queen’s National Trust Fund has decided to assist the girl child in the secondary level where more challenges begin that can easily affect their school attendance.
“We all know, especially mothers, the adolescence stage can easily disrupt and negatively affect the quality of education for girls in secondary school if the necessary amenities such as sanitary towels and toiletries are not provided on a regular basis.”
She commended Premier Foods for their assistance and called on the corporate sector to emulate the gesture.
“It is most gratifying to announce the Hlokomela Banana project will supply these essentials from today onwards for the five years that the Queen’s National Trust Fund and Premier Foods partnership is functional.”
Queen ‘Masenate Bereng Seeiso also called on Basotho to discard the myth that boys were better than girls academically, especially in scientific subjects. She said it was also important for open discussions on sexual health and reproduction to be made to increase understanding on the issues.
“To you girls, please empower yourselves. Teachers, let us support our girls in every way to facilitate improvements in girl children enrolment,” Her Majesty said.
“We need to handle matters such as menstruation with care so that boys also understand what their sisters will be going through. It is not okay for boys to tease girls about menstruation.”