The Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) has finally delivered on their promise of introducing free sanitary pad dispensers on campus. 

If you headed to the unisex bathroom across the student enrolment centre at Solomon Mahlangu House sometime during the past week, a new addition to the bathroom’s wall might have caught your attention.  

The blue and white sanitary pad dispensers are part of the SRC’s #EndPeriodPoverty campaign and were installed on Friday, July 21.  Period poverty is the term used to describe the lack of adequate access to menstrual health products.  

SRC Compliance officer, Karabo Matloga (20) told Wits Vuvuzela that they are not replacing access to condoms, nor do the pads use the same type of dispensers as the condoms do.  

According to a member of the Compliance officer’s subcommittee, Blessing Olu (22), “[the SRC] managed to get the university to install [separate and unique] pad dispensers,” and the ones for the pads are bigger. 

An empty pad dispenser after the allocated pads have run out a few days after being stocked, is a clear indicator of the need on campus.
Photo: Otsile Swaratlhe

Unlike other pad drives and initiatives, this one has no administration process for accessing the pads and it hopes to promote dignity, health and well-being for all students in need. 

As reported by Wits Vuvuzela, “[This initiative] was launched last year under the then Deputy President, Lesego Louw. [The current SRC] just had to sort out the logistics and making sure that there is enough supply for the rest of the year,” Matloga said.  

Sponsorships from the Motsepe Foundation, African Fashion and Education School Council, will keep the dispensers stocked for the foreseeable future.  

Matloga emphasised that every SRC cohort that assumes office in future, will take on the responsibility of keeping the initiative running. “We are activists at the end of the day. We understand that we are piloting a project that [has the potential] to spread all over South Africa,” he said. 

An honours student in International Relations at Wits, Jamie Naidoo (21) said, “[This initiative] is great because pads are expensive, and people do not have them all the time. This is a need compared to condoms which one always has a choice to have or not have [safe sex].” 

The installation of the dispensers is currently still during its first phase and only a total of five dispensers have been installed, namely at: Solomon Mahlangu house, the Matrix, Chamber of mines building, FNB building and an unspecified building at Education campus. 

FEATURED IMAGE: A student collecting their free sanitary pad at one of the newly installed pad dispenser on the main campus of Wits. Photo: Supplied/@Wits_SRC