5 Global Organizations Changing Menstrual Health
It’s easy to think in our modern era that menstrual hygiene is as easy as running to the corner drugstore for tampons, but for many women, it’s not that simple.
With little information and poor resources, many women in low resource countries are forced to miss school or work due to their periods. A lack of menstrual knowledge adds to all the confusion. In some places women are forced into isolation or are shamed due to misguided ideas about periods. And if you think it's better in the U.S., you are sadly mistaken. Many women lack access and can't afford basic menstrual supplies.
Since we believe womanhood should be celebrated, we want to highlight several global organizations that are taking up the cause of these women.
A trip to Kenya in 2008 was the beginning of a new vision for Celeste Mergens. Faced with the reality that for many girls menstrual health meant sitting on a piece of cardboard for a week, she came to a conclusion - women deserve to have their period with dignity.
Initially, Days for Girls started with the easy solution - providing pads to girls who couldn’t get them. But this brought other problems. With nowhere to dispose of pads, reusable pads were a necessity.
Enter the DfG POD (Portable Object of Dignity). Bright colored to hide any staining, this pad provides the very basic needs for women in underdeveloped countries. DfG also offers other levels of kits complete with supplies we often take for granted like plastic baggies, underwear, a washcloth (to mention a few).
Every global distribution of PODs is accompanied by menstrual education classes. DfG’s free online classes enable anyone to become an educator about menstrual health. By empowering women all over the globe, they are making the world a better place one POD at a time.
It was total serendipity how Dana Marlowe began I Support The Girls. After losing a considerable amount of weight in 2015, she had a lot of bras that no longer fit. In trying to get rid of them, she learned that homeless shelters rarely received donations of bras. And bras are one of the most requested items. She also learned the startling reality that women and girls across the globe were having to choose between food and menstrual health supplies.
So she started simple. She asked her friends on social media for gently used bras and sealed packages of tampons & maxipads and to donate them to women in need. The response was overwhelming and out of this simple request grew I Support the Girls.
Now women anywhere can donate tampons, pads, and lightly used bras to women and girls via their website.
ISTG's mission to restore dignity and self-respect is empowering and inspiring. Since 2015, the entirely volunteer-run organization has helped distribute over 1.8 million menstrual hygiene supplies and more than 350,000 bras to 350 vetted shelters and organizations worldwide.
Convinced that girls were more likely to become dropouts after missing school due to poor menstrual products, husband-wife team, Paul and Sophia Grinvald, came up with a solution. They created a menstrual kit that would last more than twelve months. With menstrual products that prevented infections, Ugandan girls wouldn’t have to miss school each month.
Since 2010, it has reached over 1.5 women worldwide. While primarily devoted to distributing menstrual products, AFRIpads is also providing jobs for local women continuing its vision to empower women.
A trip to a factory in Rwanda started Elizabeth Scharpf’s journey. Realizing that 20% of the factory’s employees missed work regularly due to menstruation, she realized something must be done. But she also realized that donated pads aren’t feasible as a long term solution.
By enabling and teaching local banana farmers to process and sell trunk fiber, Sustainable Health Enterprises enables local businesses to produce affordable menstrual products. After purchasing the fiber, the local businesses use the fiber to create pads which can then be purchased for a fraction of the cost of normal menstrual products.
But it doesn’t stop there because SHE is devoted to educating women in underdeveloped countries about their periods. Because knowledge is power.
Here at Cycle Technologies we are devoted to empowering women worldwide. We work to raise awareness for Fertility Awareness Methods as well as educate women on how to avoid an unplanned pregnancy. Our suite of contraceptive tools are used worldwide to help women track their cycles and practice family planning.
Want to join our mission? Learn more about our global impact.
Days for Girls International | Turning Periods Into Pathways. Accessed May 16, 2018. https://www.daysforgirls.org/.
"Dignity Period." Dignity Period. Accessed May 16, 2018. http://dignityperiod.org/.
Sommer, Marni, Bethany A. Caruso, Murat Sahin, Teresa Calderon, Sue Cavill, Therese Mahon, and Penelope A. Phillips-Howard. "A Time for Global Action: Addressing Girls’ Menstrual Hygiene Management Needs in Schools." PLOS Medicine 13, no. 2 (2016). Accessed May 16, 2018. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001962.
Support The Girls. Accessed May 16, 2018. http://isupportthegirls.org/.