Period Matters Project: Empowerment Through Reusable Sanitary Pad Production

Daniel Iroegbu Global Health Foundation
1 May 2019

The Period Matters Project provides access to reproductive health information and sustainable, clean and safe options for menstrual hygiene management. The project aims to empower vulnerable groups – such as street girls, rural women and girls who have dropped out of school. Through teaching them how to sew reusable sanitary pads and providing opportunities with community health enterprises, we can alleviate poverty among women and girls and break this vicious cycle.   

Working in remand homes, a 14-year-old adolescent girl made a request for a piece of paper. After being asked what she wants to use the piece of paper for she responded: “I want to use it to manage my menstrual discharge”. She revealed that most girls in the remand home and prison lack access to feminine hygiene products to safely manage their periods. They are left with the option of sitting on the floor during the menstruation allowing their cloths to soak the menstrual discharge.

After concluding a discussion with female members of an internally displaced persons camp, many women rose from their sitting position; however, one woman continued to sit still. It was then revealed that she is menstruating and was not wearing a pad to manage her period and that feminist hygiene materials are not included in the humanitarian assistance provided and is not prioritised in programmes and policies.

In Nigeria’s rural communities, women have miscarriages also lack safe sanitary products to manage the exudates. That being the case, they often resort to using tree leaves and health compromising materials.  

In Nigeria, menstruation is a highly taboo topic that is not publicly discussed. This is as a result of a culture of silence and shame surrounding menstruation which, is depriving the vulnerable rural female, remanded adolescent girls, school dropouts and street girls of their fundamental rights to dignity, safety and respect. The lack of menstrual hygiene materials negatively impacts women’s mental, emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing whilst also hindering societal and economic development. Women and girls who lack access to these fundamental rights are predisposed to teenage pregnancy, poor school attendance and high dropout rates. This lack of access also undermines women’s rights as many also face the risk of gender-based violence and exploitation while seeking safe menstrual hygiene management options.

The Daniel Iroegbu Global Health Foundation’s Period Matters Project is working to raise awareness and advocate against negative attitudes and period taboos. An increase in menstrual and sexual reproductive health education is key in reducing existing inequalities.

We are currently working on reusable sanitary and postpartum pads. The reusable sanitary products provide the opportunity to improve menstrual, sexual and reproduction health. At the Foundation, we advocate against any restriction that violates women’s rights and work towards breaking the vicious cycle of poverty and give back 180 school days to school girls. The reusable sanitary and postpartum pads are a sustainable solution for safe menstrual hygiene practice and postpartum care and provides more economic opportunities. Our work gives women uninterrupted productive work hours and the ability to unleash their full potential for the development of their homes, communities and overall futures.

The reusable sanitary pad is safe for incontinent care. Our menstrual and sexual reproductive health education also empowers the pre-menarche to defer child marriage. The reusable sanitary pads do not cause environment pollution and are not detrimental to women health.

We seek partnership to scale-up the production to improve coverage among vulnerable women, remand homes and girls who have dropped-out of school.

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