Last week on May 28th was World Menstrual Hygiene Day! (Betcha didn’t have that one on the calendar!). What a perfect excuse for me to share with you something that the girls and women in our community have been up to in recent months.
Women and girls around the world face a number of challenges in managing their menstruation in a safe and dignified way. Some of these challenges can include misinformation, myths, and stigma about menstruation; lack of adequate education on menstrual health; limited access to affordable and hygienic menstrual products; poor access to clean water and soap for personal hygiene and for washing menstrual cloths; and lack of private and safe spaces and washroom facilities for women and girls, particularly in schools. One consequence of these challenges is reduced school attendance for girls during their menstruation.
In recent months, I had the chance to spend time with some of the older girls attending the primary school in the community where I am staying. We got together to chat about growing up, understanding and taking care of our bodies, and to learn about menstruation and reproductive health. After some of the women in the community shared that disposable pads are not accessible (or affordable) for most of the girls, and that some just use old clothing or bed sheets to manage their periods, we discussed the idea of making our own reusable (washable) pads and the girls liked the idea! We spent the next few weeks making our own reusable menstrual pads (sometimes called “RUMPs” or “AFRIpads”). There are a number of different designs out there for these pads, they are simple and cheap to make, and can be made with local materials (fabric and towels, cloth, or cotton). I would totally recommend these to anyone looking for a cost-effective, environmentally friendly, and hygienic option for managing your periods!
Check it out! 🙂