Bikers ride to restore young girls’ dignity

Local bikers revved their engines for a good cause at the weekend, collecting thousands of sanitary towels, while raising awareness about the importance of this basic need for young school girls.

The inaugural event known as the “Pad Run” was held by Period Project South Africa (PPSA) in partnership with Kuils River-based biker club, Ikhozi Lendlela MCC.

Various biker clubs and bikers met at the Engen 1 Stop on the N2 on Sunday November 6 before heading off to the Helderstroom Prison, in Caledon, for breakfast.

They then made their way to the Stikland Driving Range in Bellville for the official handover of the sanitary towels.

The ride was open to all bikers and associated clubs. The only requirement was that the riders contribute a pack or more of sanitary towels to the cause.

A total of 19 600 sanitary towels were collected, 1 650 panties and R2 200, both in the run-up to the event and on the day itself.

PPSA founder Cecile-Ann Pearce said the initiative was part of a dignity project for disadvantaged girls who often missed school because they lacked this basic necessity.

“I would like for government to provide free sanitary towels for girls and to revise the tax placed on this. It is important to break the cycle of poverty, and therefore we need to ensure that these young girls don’t miss out on their schooling, simply because they cannot afford sanitary towels.

“I want to give our female youth an opportunity to experience menstruation with dignity, especially those in matric who cannot afford to be absent from school.”

PPSA provides free sanitary towels to girls with the help of various businesses and communities.

Ms Pearce started campaigning for free sanitary towels in 2013 and registered the NPC this year.

Ikhozi Lendlela MCC member Eldrid Petersen, echoed Ms Pearce’s sentiment, saying free sanitary towels should be provided for girls who could not afford them.

“As this is a necessity, we should not be paying tax for sanitary towels. Government should be looking into this as a matter of urgency,” said Mr Petersen.

Biker Brandon Dreyer from the Bellville-based club, Relentless MCC, said it felt great to ride for a purpose.

“I believe that young girls will be able to do so much more if they don’t have to think or worry about something as basic as sanitary towels.”

The sanitary towels collected will go to Voorbrug High School in Delft and Hex River Valley High School in De Doorns.

Ms Pearce hopes to turn this event into a national ride next year.

“For a cause mainly supported by women it is encouraging to see men get involved and break down the squeamishness around the issues associated with sanitary pads.

“For PPSA, this partnership is just the beginning of men and women uniting in order to nurture confident girls, who will grow into confident women.

“Dignity is everyone’s business. No girl should suffer shame or guilt. Nothing is more natural to the female anatomy than her monthly menstrual cycle,” she said.