Students at Camps Bay High School have tackled Period Poverty and eradicated it for the next year thanks to their pilot project and R17,000 in donations.
Cape Town, South Africa (21 June 2021) – The Camps Bay High School’s Representative Council of Learners (RCL) have worked to put an end to period poverty at their school. They have secured the donation of sanitary pads and tampons, which will hopefully last for the next year.
The RCL has implemented a project to combat period poverty which they are piloting over the next year.
“Earlier this year, the newly elected Camps Bay High School RCL decided to try an experiment in the female and gender-neutral bathrooms at school. The team placed baskets with free sanitary products available to all those in need. This was incredibly well received by the learners at our school and based on this, they launched an internal funding drive with parents and guardians of learners at the school so that the project could be sustained in the long term.”
Added Janse van Rensburg, “Period poverty is a very prevalent issue that prevents learners from coming to school. It is estimated that over 25% of girls in South Africa do not attend school while they are menstruating because they cannot afford sanitary products. We never want this to be a reason why our learners don’t attend school.” – Ms Michelle Janse van Rensburg, Camps Bay High School’s Educator-in-Charge of RCL
The fact that young women and girls miss school due to not having access to sanitary products is mind-blowing. Many of the students on the RCL shared their thoughts about this form of poverty.
“I’ve always questioned why sanitary products are not supplied free-of-charge in all female and gender-neutral bathrooms at school. Menstruation is not a choice and Period Poverty within our school community is definitely a reality. Camps Bay High School is a truly diverse school with learners coming from a variety of backgrounds. Sometimes learners may also come to school unprepared. Having sanitary products available for free in the bathrooms avoids all sorts of embarrassment and judgement.” – Michael Gulston, Grade 12 member of the RCL
The RCL project started with members of the RCL buying sanitary pads and tampons and placing them in all the female bathrooms on a trial basis to measure usage and to see whether the privilege would be abused or not.
The school students who needed pads used them, and the concept was used responsibly by all. Because the pilot project worked so well, the RCL launched a funding campaign and raised R17,000 to continue their project for the next year.
“It brought warmth to all our hearts to see the appreciation and responsibility of all the learners. This is when we knew we needed a plan to ensure the initiative lasts for years to come. We had a cake sale to raise funds for new products and received a generous donation of sanitary products from my grandparents as well as other members of the Camps Bay High School community. We then had the idea to ask for monetary donations from parents and guardians of learners at the school.” – Michael Gulston
The funds raised for the period poverty project will be used to buy sanitary pads and tampons in bulk, so there is never a shortage.
“In a month, the RCL raised over R17 000. These funds will be used to buy products in bulk to ensure that there is never a shortage of products at Camps Bay High School. Independently of this donation, the school has also invested in Sanitary Product Dispensers, which are now on the walls of the bathrooms. We would like to thank all the parents and guardians who contributed to this project to ensure that we can end Period Poverty, at least at Camps Bay High School.” – Ms Michelle Janse van Rensburg
Michael and the rest of his RCL members are now challenging other schools to start their own initiatives to end Period Poverty.
“We are very proud of our RCL for driving this incredibly thoughtful project and we are very grateful to our community for the generous support of this project which will ensure that it will be sustainable in the long term. We have no doubt that this small gesture has made a big difference in the lives of some of our learners.” – Mr Louis Mostert, Principal, Camps Bay High School