Posted: Sat, April 16, 2016 | By: Women’s Equality
In Africa, millions of girls are disastrously inconvenienced by their monthly periods.
Menstrual products are too expensive for many families there, who live on $2 a day or less. Options to sanitary pads are ripped-up scraps of old cloth from bedsheets, washcloths or t-shirts, pieces of foam mattress, toilet paper, leaves, banana fibers, sand, stone, dried mud - all are unhygienic, ineffective, and uncomfortable.
Faced with frequent, humiliating leaks and chronic infections, millions of African girls cannot go to school, or work, or carry out their daily responsibilities. The unavailability of affordable mentruation products is a major barrier to education - menstruating girls are absent 4-5 days per month, adding up to 20% of the academic year. Many of these girls drop out of school entirely, increasing their liklihood of teen pregnancy and early marriage, limiting their future career and economic opportunities. The Ugandan government reports that about 23 percent of girls drop out of education once they hit puberty.
Although sanitary pads are sold consistently in Uganda’s cities and larger towns, they are not always affordable. In rural villages the stores are often out of stock.
Menstruation problems faced by girls:
- expense of commercial sanitary pads
- girls stay home when they are menstruating rather than attend school
- unhygienic menstrual material
- lack of privacy for changing menstrual materials
- no soap for washing
- lack of counseling and guidance
- fear caused by cultural myths
- embarrassment and low self-esteem
Brighter Brains Institute is a California non-profit that provides services to Kasese province in western Uganda, where 75% of girls cannot sanitary pads. Menstruation causes Kasese adolescent girls to lose 5 days of schooling per month. Lack of proper menstruation products undermines sexual and reproductive health.
What can be done?
AFRIpads is a new, inexpensive, reusable sanitary pad - manufactured in Uganda - that is helping hundreds of thousands of women and girls live more hygienic, comfortable, and productive lives.
One customer reports:
“Before I got AFRIpads I was using pieces of old clothes during my menstruation. These were making me feel very uncomfortable, as they used to leak. So everybody could see I was in my period, making me feel very small. Now with AFRIpads I feel so comfortable. An as I know they won’t leak, AFRIpads is making me feel safe. And the best think is that they can be used for 12+ months, so they also help in saving money.”
AFRIpads Menstrual Kits are made from high-performance textiles and provide effective protection for 12 or more menstrual cycles, making them a cost-effective an eco-friendly solution. The design is an all-in-one pad that buttons securely into a pair of underwear. After use, the pad folds conveniently for easy storage before washing. Affirms are ultra-absorbent, natural and unscented.
One AFRIpad kit costs only $4.65.
Brighter Brains Institute’s goal is to provide AFRIPpads to all girls aged 12+ at four secular humanist schools in Kyarumba, Uganda.
The four schools are Rays of Light Orphanage Humanist School, Vision Care Humanist School, Mughete Junior Humanist School, and Mother Givers Humanist School.
All donations for AFRIpads receive a tax-deductible receipt, and thank you cards (in jpeg image) from girls who received your gift.
You can donate on this page.
Photos below are of Vision Care Humanist School girls, aged 12+, who recently received AFRIpads from two contributors to BBI. The generous donors were Darren Muise of Montreal, and commenters at the reddit/atheism site.