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The United Nations in South Africa and partners today donated thousands of menstrual health and hygiene management products and masks to the government as part of the UN response to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking at the handover ceremony held in Pretoria, the head of the UN in South Africa and Resident Coordinator, Nardos Bekele-Thomas said, “What is happening today is a continuation of our commitment in solidarity with the South African Government and partners to ensure that gains made towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals are not reversed.”

She added that the UN was continuously looking at its existing programmes and recognize that menstrual health and hygiene management should not be left behind during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The event was also attended by the Minister in the Presidency for Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane and the Minister of Social Development, Lindiwe Zulu. Minister Nkoana-Mashabane’ department, along with UNFPA, Water Aid Southern Africa, Footprints Foundation and Langile Youth Foundation.

“With the UNFPA [UN Population Fund] leading us within the UN system through the South African Coalition on Menstrual Health and Hygiene Management, we will continue to work together focusing on improved water, sanitation and hygiene services, risk communication and community engagement,” said Ms. Bekele-Thomas.

In her brief remarks, the UNFPA Representative in South Africa, Beatrice Mutali, noted that “access to menstrual health remains a constraint in South Africa and across Africa, hindering the daily activities of adolescent girls and young women, increasing the school absenteeism, limiting their productivity, resulting in stigma and discrimination, and has negative implications for their sexual and reproductive and mental health expressed the UN’s commitment.”

Social Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu thanked the UN for its long partnership with South Africa and for leading the entire community in its response to Covid-19. She expressed satisfaction with her partnership with UNFPA on health issues, adding that the products handed over to her ministry will be distributed to people who need it the most.

The donations will benefit, among others, women and girls in shelters such as child and youth care centres, shelters for victims of crime and gender-based violence, facilities for persons with disabilities and shelters for the homeless.

Photos and Video link to the event: