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Research Paper 3 – The cost of managing menstruation in South Africa

Key Takeaways

  • The use of more environmentally friendly menstrual products such as menstrual cups and reusable menstrual pads produce significant savings in the long term.
  • Barriers to the use of these menstrual products include high initial costs, lack of decent water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities and low availability of these menstrual products.
  • Monthly cost of menstrual pads and tampons represents 6.5% and 4.33% of the average monthly household income of those in the poorest quintile.
  • Initial cost of the menstrual cup and reusable menstrual pads represents 49.26% and 64.12% of the average monthly household income of those in the poorest quintile.
  • The average real monthly cost of menstrual pads and tampons decreased slightly between 2018 and 2019, but affordability has declined because of declining incomes.
  • The findings of the paper have the following key implications for government policy on menstrual health and hygiene:
    • Government programmes distributing menstrual materials can reduce their costs by providing menstrual cups or reusable menstrual pads.
    • Programmes that choose to distribute menstrual cups and reusable menstrual pads must also commit to improving access to WASH facilities within households and schools.
    • Programmes that choose to distribute menstrual cups and reusable menstrual pads must put in place awareness raising campaigns around the use of these menstrual materials.

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