The Challenge

Globally, there are 1.8 billion females in their reproductive age; unfortunately, millions of these females across the world are still denied the right to manage their menstrual period with dignity. In Uganda, a nationwide survey showed that only 35% of females aged 15 to 49 years were able to adequately meet their needs during Menstruation. Menstruation is a natural monthly process among females within their reproductive age that goes on till menopause. Therefore, for the well being of women and girls, there is a great need to access basic materials to utilise during their menstruation to allow them to have their periods with dignity since there is no choice as the process is natural.

According to the World Bank, about 20% of the households in Uganda are below the national poverty line. Daily expenses of these households may not cater for the purchase of sanitary pads so sanitary pads are a luxury especially for women from rural areas and vulnerable communities like refugee camps. As an alternative, these females resort to rudimentary options such as the use of old pieces of cloth, old foam mattresses, toilet paper, cloth rags and so on. This lack of appropriate materials is a high contributor to the level of school absenteeism for many adolescent girls according to the Adolescent Health Risk behaviours study conducted in 2017.

Image

The Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV)/IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre conducted a study in seven districts in Uganda (Arua, Adjumai, Budibugyo, Kasese, Kyenjojo, Lira, and Soroti) and it was found that half of the girl students missed 1-3 days of school per month which eventually translated in to missing 11% of their school year due to menstrual periods. Absenteeism is linked to affecting the performance of girls including other factors such as girls not standing in class to answer questions due to fear that their dresses are stained when in their periods, discomfort due to menstrual pain and concerns about odour.
In addition to the lack of appropriate menstrual materials, girls and women are afraid to openly discuss menstrual matters that affect their lives because in some cultures, menstruation is regarded as a taboo. A study conducted in Rukungiri district in Uganda reports that there is also lack of basic and accurate information about proper menstrual hygiene. Most of the information is clouded by cultural mythologies about menstruation which portray it as dirty and sign of maturity so girls are scared to talk about it hence they will be regarded as mature and ripe for marriage. There is a great need to develop affordable interventions around menstruation in various aspects namely: low cost sanitary materials for menstrual use, breaking silence around menstruation myths and around proper disposal of the used materials. Our innovation addresses these three aspects.

The Product