The vehicle of “running” for social change in South Africa and beyond

One in ten schoolgirls in Africa miss class or drop out completely due to commencement of their menstruation cycle (resulting from a lack of sanitary products, a lack of toilet facilities and a negative social stigma) (WHO, 2010).

Running an average of 80km per day for 32 days on South Africa’s 2350km Freedom Trail, Mimi Anderson (UK) and Samantha Gash (AUS) will promote awareness of this issue and raise funds for the establishment of a social enterprise business in South Africa. The business will employ women to make and distribute low cost feminine hygiene products in the Namahadi Community in the country’s Free State Province of South Africa. Save the Children South Africa will act as Project Manager of the social enterprise business.

Freedom Runners is privileged to be collaborating with award-winning production company, Salty Features, which will film for a documentary production on this project. Salty Features won Best Documentary Short at the Academy Awards (2013) for “Inocente” and Best Documentary at the Vancouver and Hamptons Film Festivals for “Desert Runners” – a film featuring one of the runners of this project (Samantha Gash).

(WHO) (2010). How to integrate water, sanitation and hygiene into HIV programs. Geneva,World Health Organisation (


Did you know?

  • In Sub-Saharan Africa, only 57% of all girls attend primary school and 17% of all girls attend secondary school due to limitations such as ridicule placed on these girls in their vulnerable years due to menstruation.
  • According to the Forum of African Women Educationalists (FAWE), girls in Africa drop out of school during puberty years due to a lack of sanitary menstruation products, water and separate bathroom facilities in schools.
  • Commercially-produced disposable sanitary pads are too expensive for most African schoolgirls. A packet of 10 pads costs on average US$1.35, which is significantly more than the daily income of most working parents in Africa.
  • A girl absent from school due to menstruation for four days per 28 days (or per month) loses the equivalent of eight weeks of school per year.
  • Menstruation is largely a private act and the social damage is hidden and rarely discussed in news headlines.
  • There are cultural and social attitudes towards gender and menstruation that make the discussion of this issue challenging and confronting.