In South Africa 2 million school girls are still missing out on school because they do not have access to sanitary towels and therefore stay home when they are menstruating.
The Running 4 Pads organisation hopes to change this by donating sanitary towels to no-fee schools across Cape Town.
The non-profit organisation was started in 2016 after the founder, Amanda Smith, ran her first marathon and needed a cause to run for.
Members of the organisation enter marathons and encourage donors to donate packets of pads for each kilometre they run.
Since inception Running 4 Pads has made donations to 29 schools and eight community-based organisations.
On Wednesday September 5, Garlandale High School was one of the beneficiaries of this drive as they received 500 packs of sanitary towels.
Other beneficiaries included Garlandale Primary School, Ned Doman High School, Athlone High School, Bridgetown High School as well as Manenberg SAPS booking room.
Principal of Garlandale High School, Dawn Crowie, said pupils regularly asked for sanitary towels from the front office.
With a pack of pads costing no less than R15, this is often seen as a luxury item in many households who already struggle financially to put food on their tables, she said.
About 448 girls from impoverished areas attend the school.
“Our children struggle to pay fees and bus fair so how could they afford a decent pack of pads which costs about R25?
“Every day we have girls here asking for a sanitary towel but we don’t refuse because they cannot afford it. My plan is to give a packet to each class so that they can keep it there because the girls are sometimes shy to come to the office,” she said.
Running 4 Pads ambassador Natassia Fredericks, said every term the organisation selected an area and targeted the no-fee schools in that area.
“A lot of the principals have told us that this is a huge need at their schools. Many schools are based in areas which have a lot of social issues and we just want to make menstruation easier for these pupils. In many households they have to choose between buying pads or putting food on the table and many children come to school without food,” she said.
Ms Crowie said while the lack of access to sanitary towels could account for the sometimes high absenteeism rate, that has not yet been confirmed.
“We really need the government to step up about this. Like condoms and contraceptive are freely available, we need sanitary towels to be available too. Menstruation is not a choice,” she said.