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    • Megan Mukuria

      Azar, thanks so much for your encouragement and support!

  • aspinaze

    Hi Megan, about a year ago i met some Indian women who are doing the same in rural/remote India - one was a graphic design academic, Lakshmi Murthy, who was (?is?) also secretary for the International Rural Network who may be of assistance/interest to you/your work. Lakshmi's website is http://www.vikalpdesign.com/sanitary_napkin.html . Sincerely, Anna Spinaze (Tasmania, Australia)

    • Megan Mukuria

      Thank you Anna for thinking of sharing this, its great to see work around the world empowering girls with affordable, safe menstrual health solutions. I'll take a deeper dive into their site and learn more.

  • Megan Mukuria

    Thanks everyone for your comments! I wanted to address the issue of "environmentally friendly" and reusables, and will try to address other questions individually below. First, we love for girls and women to have choice, and we believe the more options they have, the better! Second, reusables are great options that girls can even make themselves - they are great options when girls have access to clean, affordable water and to soap. 41% of girls aren't so lucky. So they need disposable pads.

    Menstrual cups and other options that are inserted are not what girls and women say they want as they are not culturally normative. This could change in 10 years or so, but we think it is important to respect the desires of women for what they say they want. Also, menstrual cups are very expensive, and that combination makes it hard to make into a viable business. Ruby Cup is the company that sells menstrual cups in Kenya and we adore them and what they are doing. Again - women deserve choice. But again, the water/soap/sanitation issue is a real problem that makes it impossible for certain communities.

    Diva Cup and I will be writing a blog specifically looking at the environmental impact of different menstrual products. Its not as clear-cut as "reusables are more eco-friendly" unfortunately. One has to look at the whole value chain of production and waste.

    We are committed to continuing to innovate the most eco-responsible pad possible and we invite you along with us in that journey.

    Thanks for the great thoughts and keep them coming!

  • marica rizzo

    check out lunapads.com and their pad4girls program - they work in Kenya and throughout west and east africa as well! :)

    • Megan Mukuria

      This is great, thank you for bringing it to my attention!

  • lovetoall

    Its really Good, you have done marvelous job, quite better service, you r genius one,,,,

    • Megan Mukuria

      Thank you! its an honor to help girls step into the life they want for themselves.

  • amulya22

    What about reusable cloth menstrual pads? These only need to be purchased once and can be washed and used for years. Less waste and more comfortable too.

    • Raelina Marie

      I'm glad I wasn't the only one with this line of thought. Reusable cloth pads are one option for sure, but thinks like the diva cup are more practical- it's a silicon cup that functions like a tampon that you can wipe out, or rinse. And you can use them until menopause (in theory).
      I think a one for one campaign with the Diva cup people is in order.

    • JessRenard

      Agreed, there are a few holistic options in the category that truly focus on sustainable solutions for the interested party. 10-20% impact on earnings... why does that sound so low? Maybe bringing some manufacturing into Kenya for the age-old reusables, or non-cloth models (insertable menses catchers) is more the focal point of remedy.

    • ctaylordorenkamp

      my thoughts exactly. resusable cloth (worn out T-shirts and scraps of old hand towels work for me) would be the only sensible solution, as the plastic-containing pads would only result in even more hygiene issues, and more problems related to sanitation and waste management, not to mention the risk of toxicity of the plastic, plastic-softeners, bleaches and other nasty "modern" materials. The issues with reusable cloth are 1) the need for a barrier material to prevent leakage, and 2) availability of clean water for laundering. I keep a small, opaque, water-tight pouch in my shoulderbag with me during my days, so that soiled cloths can be rinsed in the loo, then carried home discreetly to be thoroughly laundered.

  • rlawrence@pia.org

    my friend uses something like this
    lunapads.com
    gladrags.com

    cloth, reusable ...

  • Kristin Pedemonti

    It is in the seemingly small things that Big impact occurs! thank you for providing something truly needed and in turn making an impact for so many girls & women.

  • Paola Gianturco

    I have met girls all over Africa who drop out of school when they have their periods and ultimately drop out entirely. In Zimbabwe, I met girls who used leaves because they didn't have sanitary pads. In Kenya, I have photographed girls dancing when a local NGO gave them pads during an after school health program. This project is filling a crucially important need.

    • Alessandra Rizzotti

      Thanks for your insight Paola. I think people should learn more about the global perspective before calling out the sustainability of the pads themselves. Not sure if resusable cloth as people are suggesting in comments is as sanitary as a pad would be in rural areas, where it may be harder to wash the cloth.

      • Paola Gianturco

        In the same areas where schools have no toilets, getting pure water is almost always a problem. Women and girls carry water home long distances in containers on their heads, and, because that water is precious and in short supply, they often use what they collect for cooking. Bathing and washing are often done in lakes, ponds, streams, even rain puddles. Which means keeping things "sanitary" is---as you said---a big problem.

  • Juliana Ormsby

    My mom was born in 1910, and I used to ask her what she used when she had her period. "Rags," she replied. In a book I'm reading, "The Seduction of Mary Kelly,"
    takes place in the 1800's, and one of the girl characters kicks her "rag" under the bed. Can you imagine for over 100 years, so little has improved for some girls? Such a simple thing changes lives. You never know what one of these girls might grow up to be. Thank you so much for this act of kindness and charity. If only more people were like you, what a wonderful world it would be. Sadly, it is oftentimes those who have the least who care the most. I am struggling so much myself now (not one of the rich, successful baby boomers.) If I had any money to spare, I would give it to you.

    • Megan Mukuria

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your mom's story. Couldn't agree more that these girls could change the course of the world for good if unleashed through education - and pads are such a small key to open such a big door. That is each of our goal, I think, to step into our purpose. I feel very grateful to have found this problem and listened long enough to figure out a solution that could positively impact millions.

      It doesn't take a lot to make a difference. We can keep a girl in school for 6 more weeks per year for only $15 with pads, underwear, and health education. Perhaps you could consider helping to share the story with others - its incredible how we can do a lot with a little when we all come together. http://t.co/HZ4A09iPdu

  • Kadi Franson

    I'm a big fan of Diva Cups - I've had the same one for the last 8 years! Thoughts of including something like this?

      • BenHargrove

        Not to say that what is being written about in this article isn't laudable. It's great to have options, I'm for anything to allow these girls to remain in school and healthy and comfortable. I only object to calling it sustainable.

        • Megan Mukuria

          Hi Ben, thank you for your comments.

  • Sirishanti

    This makes a lot of sense, great work! Have you also thought about introducing mooncups? Of course, the production is completely different, but more affordable for the girls on the long run.

  • George Hiley

    This is awesome to see. It reminds me of visiting the Barefoot College in Rajastan, where they have also implemented a program for producing pads and reducing cost to give greater access to the rural poor communities. Can't find much on the specific initiative unfortunately (beyond my own photos and this YT video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WkfTPmRdaw)

  • Megan Mukuria

    Great question, thanks! What about Kotex do you see as particularly "sustainable"? Would like to understand your thoughts/perspective so I can best respond. A quick answer: yes. Sustainable in that we are a) reducing a reliance on wood pulp by using local agricultural by-products, b) reducing use of super-absorbent polymers, and c) making pads locally in Kenya. Would be delighted to discuss more.

  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    I love what you're doing with health education. Are the pads you're creating similar to Kotex's- sustainably made?