menstrual cups in developing countriesMenstruation is a natural and necessary biological function. However, it is a roadblock for millions of women and girls worldwide. About 12.8% of women and girls globally live in poverty, and 1.25 billion women and girls don’t have access to a safe and private toilet. Additionally, many people in developing countries see menstruation as unclean or even as a curse. This affects a girl’s ability to attend school as well as women’s ability to work and make a living. In this scenario, menstrual cups in developing countries could go a long way toward mitigating period poverty.

A menstrual cup is a feminine hygiene product shaped like a small cup. It is inserted into the vagina during menstruation and collects menstrual fluid. Most menstrual cups are generally made out of medical-grade silicone or latex. Importantly, the cups can be worn for periods of 12 hours and are completely reusable.

Period Poverty

In developing countries, period poverty affects 2.3 billion girls and women. Period poverty refers to an overall lack of access to menstruation education and other resources, including toilets, sanitary napkins, clean water sources and waste management. Many girls who are unable to access menstrual products often resort to using rags, paper or other unsafe materials that cannot be properly clean and sanitized. As a result, this poses a threat to their health and well-being.

Research shows that menstrual cups in developing countries are a hygienic and sustainable option, even if they do require running water. However, in settings where there is less running water, women can find ways to use less water in cleaning their menstrual cups. Women might even use less water with menstrual cups than they would otherwise, as they won’t need to wash stains out of clothes or used cloths.

Advocating for Menstrual Cups in Developing Countries

Ebby Weyime is a believer in the effectiveness of menstrual cups in developing countries. She believes that it can eradicate period poverty in her home country, Kenya. However, there are challenges to implementing menstrual cups in Kenya. For example, many Kenyans believe that a girl will lose her virginity if a product is inserted into the vagina. To combat this stigma, Weyime travels through local communities and educates people on the realities of menstrual cups. Weyime has even created her own menstrual cup, The Grace Cup.

The Grace Cup is the first and only menstrual cup made in Kenya. It is made of FDA-approved, medical-grade silicone. Importantly, the Grace Cup can last up to 10 years. Because it can last for so long, the Grace Cup will allow girls to save money. At the same time, it will allow girls and women to experience the least amount of discomfort during their period. Consequently, this will allow them to enjoy activities that they would normally enjoy.

Menstrual Cup Brands That Help Women

Various global menstrual cup brands are aware of the powerful potential of menstrual cups in developing countries. The brands are creating awareness, making menstrual cups and providing menstrual education available to girls across the world. Here are some noticeable brands that help women and girls worldwide:

  • The Freedom Cup: The Freedom Cup provides one cup to a girl in an underprivileged community with every menstrual cup purchased. It has provided cups to girls in India, Africa, Nepal, Cambodia, the Philippines and more.
  • The Moon Cup: The Moon Cup is founded in the U.K. and sold globally. The brand supports various charities, and team members donate to causes of their choice. The majority of charities that it supports provide menstruation education and assistance in developing countries.
  • The Saalt Cup: Saalt Cup is a popular menstrual cup brand in the West. It commits 2% of its annual revenue to provide period care like menstrual cups in developing countries. Through donating cups and providing girls with education, Saalt is reducing stigmas and ensuring period care worldwide.

Menstrual cups in developing countries will provide women and girls with a cost-effective way to manage their period. The expansion of these products also goes hand in hand with menstruation education. As a result, women and girls will be empowered and enabled to do more. As brands like the Grace Cup continue to educate and provide girls with cups, period stigmas will disappear and period poverty will become an issue of the past.

Kalicia Bateman
Photo: Flickr