Amnesty International Wits is working on a plan for free pads on campus.
AMNESTY International (AI) Wits launched its annual #WorthBleedingFor campaign on Wednesday, February 28 with a new plan to engage with the university.
AI Wits has said that it has put together a plan of action that involves low-cost, biodegradable pads that it wants to present to the university by the end of March.
The #WorthBleedingFor campaign, started in 2016, calls for government to evoke the increase in VAT, which AI Wits describes as a luxury tax, on pads and for Wits to provide women on campus with free pads.
“Women and girls are being unfairly taxed and paying ridiculous prices for pads. They are a basic need,” said the deputy chair of AI Wits, Haafizah Bhamjee.
In 2016, the university pledged solidarity with the call to revoke VAT on pads. But it said it could not provide free pads due to budget constraints.
In response Bhamjee said, “We know that, that is kind of not true. They have this biometric system that’s going out that is completely unnecessary.”
The Wits Campus Health and Wellness Centre Acting Head of Department, Sister Maggie Moloi, said that the university had tried to negotiate to provide free pads to residence students early last year. The plan was discontinued due to funding issues.
AI Wits aims to change its strategy of engagement with the institution to ensure that the demand for free pads is met.
“Now we have a plan of action in place of how we can actually manufacture free pads that would be biodegradable and have them [pads] distributed through bathrooms. We’re planning on taking the memorandum to university management by the end of the [first] block,” Bhamjee said.
Second-year BA general student, Renette Naude said, “A lot of students that attend Wits can’t afford sanitary pads because it has become extremely unaffordable. Why is it acceptable for Wits to offer free condoms in the bathrooms but they can’t supply free pads as well?”
Bhamjee told Wits Vuvuzela that although the #WorthBleedingFor campaign has not seen direct results, it had generated greater awareness about issues of access to pads on campus.
- Wits Vuvuzela, #WorthBleedingFor campaign back at Wits indefinitely, August 28, 2017
- Wits Vuvuzela, Wits mum on free sanitary pads, August 2, 2016
- Wits Vuvuzela, Amnesty International Wits petitions vice-chancellor for free pads, April 9, 2016