Women are estimated to menstruate for an average of 3,000 days throughout their lifetimes. This highlights the necessity for adequate access to sanitation and health services for women’s hygiene. A project called Camions of Care, founded by 18-year-old Nadya Okamoto from Portland, has made a monumental impact on relieving incidence of disease and social exclusion among women worldwide.
Since the establishment of Camions of Care, the organization has facilitated the transmission of more than 27,000 period care packages to women globally. A 2013 United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) case study of menstrual hygiene in Burkina Faso and Niger emphasized challenges such as inadequate sanitation facilities, lack of knowledge regarding periods and the cultural impact of stigma regarding menstruation. Addressing these challenges is pivotal in establishing better practices for women’s hygiene. The study also cites that empowering women through education and personal support is imperative to improving local sanitation practices.
A journal published by the Public Library of Science (PLOS) also attributes poor knowledge of healthy menstruation practices to decreased school attendance among girls in Uganda.
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) reinforces evidence that women and girls without access to satisfactory female hygiene facilities are more likely to miss school and work, and can be subject to higher rates of sexual assault. USAID also attributes improved sanitation facilities to promoting economic development, while also affording women “dignity, privacy and security.”
The non-profit organization also aids partners such as New Avenues for Youth, Central City Concern, Rose Haven, Free Hot Soup and Self Enhancement, Inc. and has impacted women across 19 states within the U.S. through foundations of “advocacy, youth leadership and service”. The Hasbro Community Action Hero Awards program has also recognized Okamoto’s homeless relief organization for exceptional commitment to advancing women’s health.
– Amber Bailey