BeSafe Re-usable pads-From Shame to Empowerment

Cameroon

First Lady Michelle Obama during the Let Girls Learn campaign on Nov 2, 2015 said “Scholarships, bathrooms, and safe transportation investment on girls education will only go so far if societies still view menstruation as shameful and shun menstruating girls.”

On any given day, more than 800 million women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 are menstruating worldwide. This precious biological process (menstruation) that brings life is an ignored human rights issue for women around the world.

What is the future of Africa if menstruation is not liberated and it’s seen as a cultural taboo which cannot be spoken about openly? I think every one of us is not liberated.

It gives me a great pleasure to talk about something i’m so passionate and fighting for ; Let Girls Learn and menstrual hygiene management. My passion was derived from my experience struggling through life to get an education. I missed school four days every month because of a lack of information on menstruation and sanitary pads. Today, I am here to talk about menstrual hygiene management, re-usable pads, and menstruation as women’s human right, which is still a barrier to Girls education, sexual reproductive health and gender equality in developing countries.

Cultural taboos and myths prevented me to be informed on menstruation until it happened to me–It made me scared, embarrassed and I missed school.

Menstruation issues are non-issues or neglected. We don’t want to recognize the fact that menstruation matters to everyone. It matters to boys and men, too. It is an African problem.

Presently, 82% of adolescent girls and women living in developing countries are practicing menstrual hygiene management un-hygienically due to lack of awareness and economic hindrance to afford sanitary pads. So, they end up using papers, rags, mattress stuffings and other unhygienic materials which have a negative impact on their sexual reproductive health and increase school absenteeism and consequently result in school drop-outs.

To solve this problem, we carried out menstrual hygiene management campaigns, set up clubs in schools, prisons, disability centers and rural communities where adolescent girls, women and boys get knowledge on practical issues on menstruation and their roles to break the silence on menstruation.

We have trained 12 girls and women to make pads,set up BeSafe reusable social enterprise where these women produce these pads and sell at low cost of $2/pack used for 1 year to other women in rural communities who don't have access and cannot afford sanitary pads.Our BeSafe pads initiative has helped improve the lives of over 3000 women.employed 24 ,reduce school absenteeism ,school drop out and unwanted pregnancies.

Photographer & Videographer Credit: Mallory smith

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Education Health & safety
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