Glencore Ferroalloys continues to maintain its social licence to operate and change the lives of its communities for the better through its sanitary dignity campaign. The campaign, which began two years ago, sought to ensure the girl child does not miss a day of school during her reproductive cycle.

It is against this background that a partnership with the Imbumba Foundation was formed. This foundation is a renowned non-profit organisation (NPO) dedicated to driving social change. Together, the two entities are committed to making a difference in the lives of underprivileged girls in rural communities across Limpopo and Rustenburg by addressing the critical issue of access to sanitary products.

From 19 July to 7 August 2023, the two partners commemorated their commitment to empowering and uplifting more than 12 000 young girls by donating over 146 000 packets of sanitary towels to 64 schools in areas surrounding Glencore’s operations by the end of the year in Limpopo and the North West. The distributions were also joined by Clement Maosa, popularly known as “Kwaito” from the SABC 1 soap opera Skeem Saam. Maosa, who is also from a rural village in Limpopo, shared his story to empower both boy and girl learners on the importance of following their dreams, working hard and never giving up.

Globally, there are NPOs, government support programmes, local community organisations, schools and universities, online platforms and crowdfunding campaigns to ensure free access to sanitary towels. In South Africa in particular, young girls face numerous challenges with effectively managing their menstrual hygiene. Lack of access to affordable and hygienic sanitary products often leads to prolonged absences from school, which ultimately hinders their educational progress and future opportunities. It is estimated that a girl child can miss up to 50 days of school each year due to this issue.

Since the start of the partnership in 2021, Glencore and Imbumba have reached more than 20 000 girls in the North West and Limpopo provinces, ensuring each girl is provided with sanitary pads that will last them for a full year. The sanitary pads are sourced from Imbumba’s Caring4Girls flagship initiative, which aims to support disadvantaged girls with sanitary towels, puberty education and menstrual hygiene resources to keep them in school.

Glencore Ferroalloys stakeholder engagement superintendent Ntombizodwa de Toit believes that by addressing the challenges faced by their communities, they can build a more inclusive and empowering future for all. “We firmly believe that every child deserves equal access to education and opportunities. By addressing the issue of menstrual hygiene and reducing barriers to education for young girls in our host communities, we hope to create a positive and lasting impact on their lives. We are proud to have reached so many young girls through this partnership, and we are optimistic about their future. It starts with the little things to empower and create these remarkable women.”

Richard Mabaso, founder and CEO of the Imbumba Foundation, expresses the importance of having powerful and impactful partnerships that help build a future generation: “Together with Glencore, we can provide essential sanitary products to underprivileged girls, allowing them to continuously attend school and pursue their educational aspirations. Menstruation is the most natural thing to happen in human nature and should not have a stigma surrounding it; it should be a conversation freely had. With this partnership, we are empowering the next generation of female leaders.”

By providing access to sanitary towels, young girls are empowered to pursue their dreams without limitations. Glencore is committed to making a lasting impact on its communities to enable a brighter future for the country.

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