IF promises constituted a commercial product like, say, a popular brand of soft drink or alcohol, they would provide a basis for the establishment of a highly lucrative industry. That, though is a fictitious sketch.
But fictitious creations can offer lessons for enabling societies to retune themselves into better entities. A topical illustrative case is the plight of school girls occasioned by problems related to monthly menstrual cycles - a subject that shot to the fore last Sunday, courtesy of the Menstrual Hygiene Day that is commemorated globally.
For starters, the event isn’t characterised by much fanfare like most other events that are observed in annual cycles, primarily because menstruation is a largely taboo subject.
Quite many people would rather it were, at best, excluded from the calendar, and, at worst, be as low-keyed as possible. In an ideal situation, menstruation is an absolutely private affair that shouldn’t transcend homes, dormitories, hostels, and hotels.
But since that ideal has been acutely compromised, the health condition in question has, most embarrassingly and sadly, been literally demoted to a public subject. Sad and embarrassing, we are saying, because the problem shouldn’t have been experienced in the first place, and therefore figuring out how to tackle it shouldn’t have arisen.
According to a message read at the latest commemorative event in Mwanza (whose theme represented a country-wide plight), hundreds of girls lose up to 90 days (a whole three months) of the schooling period due to menstruation-related complications.
The situation is blamed on poor hygiene in schools, and some imported sanitary pads that, besides being expensive, are substandard, and cause rashes and infections. The girls have appealed to the government to create an environment under which local manufacturers would produce relatively cheaper, user-friendly, and safer ones.
Given earnestness, we believe both interventions are relatively easy to enforce. If an opening for local pad manufacturers were created, but on condition that they pursue above-board practices, crooked importers of that vital facility would either reform or risk being shunted aside.
As for clean toilet facilities in schools, that’s an issue that should have been fixed yesterday, and not wait for tomorrow! Plus, dependency on NGOs to distribute free pads to the girls is demeaning ! For sure, Tanzanians aren’t poor to the level of failing to solve essentially minor problems.
And, back to where we started, promises have been made to fix problems related to female students. We need to see earnest action to that end.