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Feminine Product Companies that Give Back For people living in extreme poverty around the world, access to basic needs such as food, water, shelter and medical care is a daily struggle. In addition to this, women face another challenge — access to menstrual products like pads and tampons. In fact, 1 million women worldwide cannot afford sanitary products. This issue, called “period poverty,” is one that many people and organizations are trying to combat. Here are five feminine products that give back to women around the world.

5 Feminine Product Companies that Give Back to Women

  1. Cora – Cora is a company that sells organic tampons whose mission is to fight period poverty. Cora uses a portion of its monthly revenue to provide sustainable period management for women in India. The company also empowers women through employment and education opportunities. According to the company website, “with every Cora purchase, we provide pads and health education to a girl in need. We use the power of business to fight for gender equality and to provide products, education and jobs to girls and women in need in developing nations and right here at home.”
  2. Lunapads – Lunapads is a feminine product company that has been supporting menstrual and reproductive health as well as access to period education in the Global South since 2000 through an organization called Pads4Girls. Pads4Girls educates women about healthy and economically efficient period products, such as the use of washable cloth menstrual pads and underwear that can last for years. Pads4Girls has helped to supply 100,000+ reusable menstrual pads and period underwear to more than 17,000 menstruators in 18 different nations.
  3. Days for Girls – Days for Girls is an international organization whose mission is to address global issues surrounding period poverty and provide education and access to menstrual products to those living in poverty. The organization has been working to achieve this goal by developing global partnerships, cultivating social enterprises, mobilizing volunteers and innovating sustainable solutions that shatter stigmas and limitations for women and girls. To date, the Days for Girls movement has reached 1 million girls and counting.
  4. Bloody Good Period – Bloody Good Period is a period company based in the U.K. Gabby Edlin, the founder of the company, decided to do something about creating a sustainable flow of menstrual products for those who cannot afford them in the U.K. Bloody Good Period also sells merchandise and hosts events that highlight the stigmas around menstrual health and issues surrounding period poverty. The organization supplies 25 asylum seeker drop-in centers based in London and Leeds and supplies food banks and drop-in centers across the U.K. with period supplies.
  5. Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) – Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) is an organization whose main goal is to help women in Rwanda jumpstart locally owned franchises and businesses to manufacture and create affordable and eco-friendly pads. SHE works with local businesses to produce these pads with local farmers and manufacturing teams and works with these businesses on making pads affordable for those around the country. SHE also trains community health workers on how to provide education to boys and girls about puberty and menstrual hygiene. So far, SHE has allowed 60,101 girls and women living in poverty to have access to pads, and its mission has reached 4.3 million people through advocacy and social media.

Although the issue of period poverty continues to be a constant struggle for women and girls around the world, these were five feminine products that give back to women.

– Natalie Chen
Photo: Flickr

Low-Income Communities Deserve Sanitary Menstrual Products
In 2015, 18 percent of Rwandan females didn’t go to school or work because they couldn’t purchase sanity menstrual products.

Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) recycles trunk fiber from banana farmers to be cut, carded, washed, fluffed and solar dried for menstrual pads. The company supplies farmers with the necessary equipment and training services for production. They offer health and hygiene education to the community through schools.

SHE believes it’s a personal injustice that menstrual hygiene is seen as a luxury item. In Rwanda each year, the country has roughly a gross domestic product (GDP) loss of $115 million for women needing to take sick leave due to their periods. The company is fighting for the removal of value-added taxes on menstrual pads.

“We’re creating a blueprint to franchise globally. It’s a sustainable system that can be rolled out anywhere. We think it’s straight up common sense,” SHE outlined on the company’s website.

Most U.S. food stamp programs do not define sanitary menstrual products as an essential item. In India, people believe menstruation makes women impure. Most of the time females who are on their period are banished from completing their household obligations such as cooking, or even from inhabiting their homes at all.

In the largest slum, Mukuru, in Nairobi, Kenya, a study found that girls 10 to 19 years old were having sex with older men to gain access to sanitary menstrual products, according to Dignity Period.

In Burkina Faso, 83 percent of girls don’t have a sanitary menstrual changing area, and more than half of schools in the poorest countries lack private toilets, according to UNICEF.

Diana Sierra, a founder of Be Girl Inc., created a pair of underwear with a menstrual, mesh pocket that females can fill with any type of recyclable materials, such as cotton, grass or fabric, depending on the materials readily available in their geographic location.

After Sierra finished a master’s program in sustainability management at Columbia University, she traveled to Uganda for her internship. While conducting research on a coffee farm and cultural arts, she was working on the side to create a prototype for the most effective sanitary pad.

“So I said okay I’m going to hack this material with what I have handy. I took an umbrella for the layer on the bottom, I took like a mosquito net and cut it in pieces and stick it all together and created a kind of a universal pocket, a mix-proof pocket for a certain material,” said Sierra.

Sierra took her product to a school and the children found it successful, but they didn’t like the color black because they found it boring. In Tanzania and Malawi, the stigma associated with menstruation is more than a negative connotation. It is considered a curse.

“When we were asking them, they were talking about how they can’t touch an animal because the animal would just drop dead, and they cannot touch a baby because the baby can die. They cannot go through the crops because the crops will die,” said Sierra.

Sierra realized that she spent years working for global companies, designing for about 10 percent of the population with their extra TVs and face steamers, but she wondered about the other 90 percent of the world who feel that they aren’t deserving of a sanitary product.

Be Girl was launched in the U.S. to fiercely distinguish between and within genders. Sierra is mining a conversation of equality worldwide. It’s a product not exclusive to any socioeconomic status. She wants women to educate themselves about their options and teach others in every country so that generations that follow will spread the knowledge.

“They have the same value as a human being, but they’re completely overlooked. So that was the very first thing that I said I have to go and see this for myself and experience firsthand what it is that a designer can do for this type of scenarios,” said Sierra.

Rachel Williams

Photo: Flickr