4 Innovations That Are Reducing the Shame of Menstruation
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Finally, a women’s cycle has made the news cycle. For roughly 250 million adolescent girls in the world living in poverty, having a period means having to carry a heavy burden of shame. In addition, a shortage of sufficient clean water, toilets and sanitary products in schools can limit their ability to attend school and participate in daily life activities.
As PSI continues to develop the market for toilets and sanitation across India and Africa, it has become apparent that not only does having a toilet bring dignity to entire families but also it positively affects women’s health. For girls and women having a toilet brings dignity to menstruation and allows for the safe storage of sanitary supplies. One of the most popular features of the toilets PSI is helping to construct in India is the small “cubby shelf” in upper right corner that lets women store sanitary supplies for her period, as seen in the banner photo above.
As more and more organizations are focusing on menstruation management and alleviating the burden created by period-related issues around the world with innovative solutions, market development and market research, here are four innovations that are helping girls and women cope with their periods:
Reusable pads are an effective way to provide girls, especially those in low-income situations, access to sanitary products that are affordable and safer than unsanitary, less absorbent materials such as rags and mattress stuffing.
However, reusable pads come with a unique set of challenges. Oftentimes, reusable feminine products can cause significant health problems when not cleaned properly. Social stigma and cultural taboos about menstruation deter girls from washing their reusable pads with normal laundry and causes embarrassment when hanging the pads outside to dry after they are washed. The reusable pads then remain damp and form bacteria that can cause reproductive infections and illness. Making matters worse, many girls often decide to skip school out of fear of being embarrassed or ashamed.
Luckily, students at the Art Center College of Design created “Flo”, a versatile period management system that allows girls to face their periods with dignity. Flo allows for longer-lasting menstruation management and is a low cost option in areas where disposable sanitary pads may be perceived as being too expensive.
- Health Care