Reusable sanitary pad on table top

Menstrual Hygiene - Share A Better Period

If you are a person who menstruates, it comes as no surprise that it is a very costly matter. As the price of living is going up, all these expenses greatly add up.
For those living in poverty across the globe, it can also be a lifetime of stress and embarrassment. Along with humanitarian disasters on the rise, the issue of menstrual hygiene needs to be openly spoken about; it should not be a taboo topic nor stigmatised. Click here to read more about Chhaupadi and menstruation taboos.

School girls in Malawi wear un-absorbent cloths that chafes the skin, stains clothes, and is noticeable and bulky. Subject to bullying, this creates shame and stigma resulting in many girls missing school to avoid harassment. [1a.] In Africa, 1 in 10 girls miss school because they don't have any sanitary products to use or because there are no safe toilets to use.[1b.]

Where we tend to hear all the stats from countries across the world, did you know that in the UK alone in 2020, 3 in 10 girls have struggled to afford or access sanitary wear during lockdown, with over half (54%) of these girls having used toilet paper as an alternative. [2.] Did you know that almost two million girls (64%) aged 14-21 in the UK have missed a part day or full day of school because of their period?![3.]

Action Aid is an international charity that works with women and girls living in poverty, finding solutions for local communities. Rather than offering temporary solutions by donating sanitary products to them, one of the projects that Action Aid provides is in teaching women to sew reusable low-cost sanitary pads.

Ruth, from Malawi, is a mother of two who makes reusable sanitary pads for girls in Namalusa village, Malawi.

ActionAid provided the sewing machine, and training on how to use it, to her and other women in the community who were struggling to make ends meet. So far, the women taking part in this project have made 3,000 pads, to be distributed to 600 girls. 

"I think the program is good," Ruth says. "I’ve benefitted from it, and others are benefitting from it," she said. 

One of the girls who has received pads came to her to thank her and say that she was doing better at school because of the pads.

Ruth said: "I felt good in my heart, because I never expected I’d be able to make such a difference."[4.]

In instances such as in humanitarian disasters, reusable products are not always ideal, due to lack of washing facilities and displacement. This is where disposable sanitary products are required but they can be costly, and so, Action Aid rely on donations to be able to offer these products.

To inspire and encourage eco-friendly alternatives to disposable tampons and pads, Action Aid have provided simple instructions and a template to make your own reusable sanitary pads like the ones they use in their global poverty programs. 

Popular fashion sewing content blogger @holly_dennett has created a wonderful video tutorial which shows just how easy it can be to make your own reusable sanitary pads using the template and instructions provided by Action Aid. You can find this on her Instagram and social media channels via her @holly_dennett handle.

Not only is this an eco-friendly, cost-effective way to deal with periods, it is also a great scrap-buster! Get making and get sharing!







Menstruation Taboos:

Template download:

Make your own reusable Sanitary Pads Instructions:

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Photo credit: Sarah Chai @ Pexels

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