Joburg - A new digital platform and app FemConnect was launched this week aiming to make menstrual hygiene, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) wellness, and family planning easily accessible.
That platform and app will see women in sub-Saharan Africa have quick access to organic menstrual hygiene products, as well as free access to tele-health across sexual and reproductive wellness and family planning. FemConnect also has a feature that enables citizens to donate sanitary pads, as well as apply to mentor a young girl.
“Many young women do not have access to quality and holistic SRHR services in their communities. When young girls require these SRHR resources, they are often judged and stigmatised or told that they are dirty during the time of their period. Even more concerning is an estimated 30% of South African girls skip school while they are on their period because they do not have sanitary products. Further to this many don’t have access to sanitation, clean wash facilities, and even toilet rolls,” said Asonele Kotu, the founder and chief executive of FemConnect.
Kotu said users can request one-on-one help and support, gain expert insight into family planning and contraceptives, access menstrual hygiene products, as well as speak virtually to a resident pharmacist or counsellor that specialises in sexual and reproductive health or gender-based violence
“There is a critical gap in society that needs to be filled. Young women, especially those from poorer communities, suffer severe shame around SRHR issues. They also have to deal with long waiting times in clinics and costly travel. There’s a lack of access to equitable SRHR/mental health and GBV services and a shortage of digital solutions. Add to this the high pregnancy rates and unwanted abortions, and it’s clear that our youth need urgent interventions,” said Kotu.
She added that the platform aimed to highlight the holistic SRHR issues that young women faced.
“If we, as a nation, are serious about making changes to the lived experiences of women, then we have to take steps to end period poverty. We need to work together and further empower organisations that are already offering support programmes in schools and communities so that we can end the limitations imposed by menstruation,” said Kotu.