Zimbabwe Govt should prioritise providing sanitary pads in schools rather than worry about the distribution of condoms to pupils, Chitungwiza Junior Councillor Natallie Machano has said.
Machando told a budget consultative meeting with parliamentarians and various other stakeholders organised by the Zimbabwe National budget Coalition, a consortium of civil society organisations on budgeting and accountability on Wednesday that sanitary ware was a basic necessity.
She said government should set a budget allocation for providing sanitary ware to pupils and students rather than condoms, which are a “luxury”.
“Sanitary pads are a basic need. How many children need condoms? They are not a basic necessity,” Machando told the meeting facilitated by the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (Nango).
“In some areas, girls are missing school because they don’t have sanitary ware. They will only go back to school after their periods. If government cannot completely provide sanitary ware in schools, it should at least subsidise by, say 50%.
“Government can say sanitary pads are a responsibility of parents, but most parents cannot afford. Some pupils do not have parents. It should be a responsibility of government to see to it that such basics are provided to the girl child.”
Goromonzi West MP and chairperson of Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Beater Nyamupinga said the legislature will pressure government to provide school children with sanitary ware.
“The issue had been before Parliament. As the Portfolio Committee on Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development, we will push government to make sure that it sets aside money for sanitary ware in schools. We are aware that some girls are not going to school when they are on their periods,” she said.
Meanwhile, permanent secretary in the ministry of Macro-economic Planning, Desire Sibanda said government hoped to reduce its wage bill, which stood at 80%, to 30% by 2018.
Sibanda, who was represented by Innocent Madziva, a deputy director in the ministry, said this can only be achieved by growing the economy, while maintaining the current wage bill.
He said the economy could grow by creating a conducive climate for investment, so that government widens its tax base. Nango programmes director, Machinda Marongwe said there was need for government to come up with a pro-poor budget to address the issue of service delivery.
The Finance ministry is currently making budgeting consultations for the 2015/16 budget.