Considering it’s something the vast majority of the world’s women experience on a monthly basis, the issue of addressing the natural functions of our female anatomy is unfairly tedious and somewhat taboo.
These social enterprises are re-defining feminine hygiene by reclaiming womanhood and encouraging those who can afford it to choose a product that not only benefits them, but the world around them too.
Each month, 46,000 women who are homeless in Australia, lack sufficient access to safe and clean sanitary products.
Former “neighbour” and social entrepreneur, Saskia Hampele started Gift Box with one dream, that ‘every woman, worldwide, has access to clean, affordable and quality sanitary products”.
It’s simple, one for one. You buy a box of 100 per cent organic tampons, and Gift Box provides another box to a woman in need.
Often forced to use whatever is available to them, Gift Box ensures that homeless women are not only able to ensure their hygiene and physical safety, but can remain dignified. Barely months old, Gift Box has already provided over 34,000 tampons to women’s refuges and shelters for those in need.
In 2010, Chantelle Baxter and Dave Dixon surveyed women around Sierra Leone about the pressing issues related to managing menstruation. Shocked to discover that only 1 in every 10 women surveyed had heard of a sanitary pad, they founded OneGirl and created the LaunchPad project. Since its inception one year later, LaunchPad has provided training for 15 women in rural communities across Sierra Leone; empowering them through business management, financial literacy and menstrual hygiene management training, that will assist them in their role as a LaunchPad Champion – selling disposable, biodegradable pads for a small profit.
Each pad is composed of papyrus leaves and paper waste, an environmentally friendly alternative to reusable pads – which can often pose an embarrassment for women during cleaning, or tampons and menstrual cups – which, in the areas around Sierra Leone, are not a viable option for the 90% of women that have undergone Female Genital Cutting (FGC).
It’s not a fairy tale: SHE takes banana fibre and spins it into gold. Changing the nature of feminine hygiene, the people behind Rwandan-based SHE have taken a four-pronged approach to managing menstruation for vulnerable women: debunking, reclaiming, investing and launching.
Helping women to launch their own businesses, as well as manufacturing and distributing affordable menstrual pads, SHE not only provides the means to help prevent women and girls from missing school and work due to lack of access to sufficient sanitary products, but also enables women to help themselves in finding financial independence for improved livelihoods.
A chance to start conversation about how menstrual health management critically effects a young woman’s self-esteem and sense of self, WASH uses this annual event to piggy back on existing efforts to educate and mainstream positive attitudes toward feminine hygiene.
With advocacy programs ongoing in various countries, national partnerships with parties critical to the building of sustainable infrastructure for vulnerable women and online knowledge sharing platforms built to provide a safe space for women and girls to discuss their issues and concerns, WASH united aims to educate and eradicate the stigma that exists around menstrual health today.
Equating to approximately 3600 pads and tampons every 10 years, the average women is generating literal towers of harmful waste into our environment.
Despite its odd shape and slightly daunting instruction manual, the menstrual cup produced by OrganiCup is an alternative feminine hygiene product that’s better for you, and better for the environment.