What hurts more than the period pains?


Period pains may hurt physically, but what hurts even more is the lack of conversation and engagement about sanitary products and education for women.

The reality of periods is that they are viewed as this icky and yucky ‘thing’ and they belong to women. Menstruation does not affect females alone.

Religion is probably partly to blame for the taboo against women on their menses. This culture of making women ashamed of their bodies is so far rooted into religion, so much so that it is almost painful to lift my head as a female when I have this supposed curse of Eve knocking every month reminding me of this sordid Biblical sin and how as a result thereof I now bleed and bleed and need to bare the pain thereof thus earning the title of being called woman. Sigh.

Making shame the centre of menstruation is wrong and lazy – it is the easy route out of a failure to educate. We perceive menstruation as a problem; as a disease that plagues women (as if it comes and goes once in a blue moon).

The founding of The Red Wings Project was on the basis that women should have equal and fair distribution as well as availability of sanitary products and facilities for women in South Africa regardless of race and economic status. But not only products, education too; we need to do away with the taboos and stigmas associated with women and their periods.


In most African schools, young girls are pretty certain and convinced that going home or staying at home rather than be at school is the best solution to their periods.

The Red Wings Project aims to tackles the following issues

  • Increase access to sanitary products to disadvantaged females
  • Create awareness around the lack of sanitation faced by a major portion of South African women
  • Collect and donate sanitary products to the disadvantaged, homeless and shelters
  • Eradicate the taboos of girls and women feeling humiliated when their on their menses
  • Call on policy makers to make women sanitary products available to the underprivileged


This is how each of us can get involved:

  • Donations of sanitary pads to The Red Wings Project
  • Women within corporate institutions & companies coming together & contributing as well as donating sanitary pads/towels for collection
  • Sanitary bins placed in various locations collect sanitary pads/towels  and then be distributed
  • Register on our site, receive news and updates of our events
  • Sign our petition to coerce our government to strike sanitary pads off the 14% VAT list in order for these products to be zero-rated products.

    With young girls from community of Klipfontein

There’s a quote by Dr. James Emmanuel Kwegyir Aggrey that goes: “If you educate a man, you educate an individual. If you educate a woman, you educate a nation.”

Educating girls and women is essential in reducing the poverty rate in our country and province. As the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in 2012, ‘the greatest return comes from investing in girls and women. Whey they are educated, they drive development in their families, communities and nations.

Menstruation is filtered into an unnecessary ‘Don’t talk about it until you have and if you will never have it, it is none of your business’. Pads are even classified as luxuries and taxed in most countries… The key is to SPEAK, EDUCATE and open up these dialogues for CHANGE! Women are the beginning and the end and the lack of much attention being paid to their basic needs will cause a dearth in our nations.


About the author

Olwethu Leshabane

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