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Re: Sanitary pads

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  • Kennedy Owino
    Dear Cathy and all, This is a remarkable initiative especially great because of the steps and important role you play at helping the young girls stay at
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 12, 2008
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      Dear Cathy and all,

      This is a remarkable initiative especially great because of the steps and important role you play at helping the young girls stay at school rather than home with cowdung between their legs.

      An Organisation based in Nairobi called FAMILIA’s Center for Youth Empowerment (http://www.familiacare.org/youthhealth.htm) is currently empowering about 300 youths, mostly needy girls through skills training. The youths are also involved in sexuality education and peer counseling. One of the plights the youth educators realized from disadvantaged girls is the lack of sanitary towel for menses management. The project assist thousands of girls stay in school during their menstrual period. Most families cant afford to supply their Adolescent girls with sanitary pads During their monthly period, these girls opt to unsuitable methods of containing their menstrual flow; cow dung,old clothes and pieces of blanket or rags, toilet paper or even leaves. Some girls from poor communities do not use anything at all. Obviously, the methods used by these girls are unhygienic. They do not sufficiently contain menstrual flow, they may lead to unlikable odours and they depressingly affect a girl's confidence and expose her to ridicule and exclusion by her peers. Such a girl may pull out from fully participation in class and extra curricular activities. A big number of girls simply omit school during their period and this translates to an average girl losing over a full month of schooling in a given year. Besides, the lack of sufficient water for menstruation management remains a challenge in many schools.

      Many schools in underprivileged areas lack sufficient sanitation facilities which are vital not only during a girl's period but at all times generally. These embrace enough water, adequate toilet facilities and appropriate dumping facilities for sanitary wear. Again, many menstruating girls would rather wish to stay at home due to lack of facilities to help them manage their periods than go to school. 

      These aspects certainly affect the academic attainment of many disadvantaged girls and hamper their fulfillment of the right to education. 
      Familia design and make re-usable sanitary towels thus offering a cheap alternative at the same time offering job opportunities to slum girls. The design consists of an outer shell made of waterproof material and whatever suitable fabric is readily available. A padding made of absorbent cotton material is inserted into the shell. They recommend the girls to make additional seven to nine of these inner cotton materials, which they can wear and wash. In actual fact, commercially made, disposable sanitary towels are more ideal, but it is worth to recognise also recognize that many girls cannot afford to use them, and this is an alternative to the other unsuitable menstrual management methods.

      Perhaps this is an Organisation that you can network and work side by side with.


      Ken Owino

      Nafsi Africa Acrobats






      Posted by: "cathy stubington" cathys@...

      Tue Nov 11, 2008 11:18 am (PST)

      Just a short description of our project of sanitary pad provision:
      It was the beginning of a village partnership between a village in Nyanza and our rural community here in British Columbia Canada.
      I received a request to help with the need for sanitary supplies in order to keep girls attending school regularly.
      We began to raise money so that we could keep 60 girls supplied with disposable pads each month. (Kotex Always pads)
      Alongside this the young man I work with enlisted the help of a local nurse, who gathered the girls for learning and discussion sessions on menstrual health, reproductive health, and gender issues.
      (A valuable side benefit is that the participation and performance of girls in the school has increased tremendously! !!! )

      But with this we became more and more aware of the unsustainability of the disposable pads - not only in terms of money, but also that we were promoting a product that creates a whole lot of garbage. Such products are not questioned enough here where we have garbage disposal systems which do nothing but temporarily hide the problem that is being created!
      So instead we researched designs for washable pads, and financed the purchase of two sewing machines and an overlock machine, and fabric. A tailor in the village volunteered to use this opportunity to teach some girls to sew. There was still a problem that the girls would have to walk home if they needed to change during the day. So the School and village identified the need for a Girls' Changing Room at the school. This is presently being built, and it will have taps connected to a rain collection container. The room will also house a small sewing school, where both sanitary pads and school uniforms will be made. Thus several girls will also be acquiring a useful income-generating skill.

      The system is not yet perfect, especially in rainy season - each girl/woman needs enough pads to last through her period. But this is being worked through gradually. We hope that the project will also benefit women in the village who have the same issue.

      A large community-based NGO working in Ethiopia has now taken this up having learned about our project; they are doing an extensive research into how many pads are needed and the economics of making washable pads.

      yours Cathy S
      British Columbia Canada

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