The media has given attention to the problems underprivileged girls go through during their monthly period and the innovations some of them resort to, including using feathers and even goatskin because of lack of sanitary pads, oblivious of the health hazards. For the last two years Julie Weigaard, founder and CEO of Ruby Cup, has been helping poor schoolgirls and women go through menstruation with dignity, and carry on with their normal activities uninterrupted. She takes us down the path she has walked to introduce this international menstrual innovation to Kenya.
“Menstruation and lack of menstrual hygiene products causes girls living in poverty to miss school and this contributes to high school dropout rates. Indeed, even older underprivileged women find menstruation curtails their daily and professional life if they don’t have proper protection. Yet, no woman or girl should be made to view menstruation as a period of shame.
Because of the shame associated with menstruations, used pads and towels are disposed off in unhygienic manner and even when sanitary towels are re-usable, girls are embarrassed to wash and hang them on the line to dry. They usually keep them inside to dry or in places where they don’t get enough air and therefore attract bacteria because of humidity. This can become a health hazard. On average, a woman uses 11,000 tampons or pads in her lifetime and this presents a major disposal problem. These are some of the findings I stumbled on while doing research for my master’s degree programme.
This prompted me to go further and look for a sustainable solution to menstruation management among the poor. Ruby Cup,…