At the recent Academy awards, a documentary highlighting the importance of breaking the stigma of menstruation won an Oscar. During their acceptance speech, the producers of the film “Period. End of Sentence”, Rayka Zehtabchi and Melissa Berton emphasised the importance of speaking openly about menstruation and feminine hygiene around the world. “A period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education,” concluded Berton. The film documents a group of women who use a machine to make low-cost sanitary pads in a village in central India’s Hapur district in a bid to improve female hygiene, women’s empowerment and development.
The Pandula Trust also recognises the need for similar awareness in Namibia and last year contributed towards a drive to supply school girls with sanitary pads at the coastal towns. Earlier this week Pandula contributed close to N$5000 to the Sister Namibia project to distribute re-usable sanitary pads in the northern regions of Namibia.
In many rural communities, young girls are not lucky enough to have access to tampons or pads on a regular basis. Because of this, they are forced to use various materials such as t-shirts, layered cloths or even toilet paper. Research has also shown that these girls miss school because they do not feel comfortable and confidant during the day, and so stay home instead. According to the Director of Sister Namibia, Laura Sasman, they received numerous calls for assistance from especially hostels in the north.
“Students were missing classes because they could not afford sanitary pads. As is the nature of menstruation, it wasn’t just one girl at a time, but large groups,” she added. “The project has been running for some time, and it has made a noticeable impact in the communities we have assisted. We are awaiting more feedback from other areas to see how effective the sister pad is.”
Instead of using everyday pads and tampons which most communities are not able to afford, the Sister Pad has become a solution. This well designed cloth sanitary pad is reusable, environmentally friendly, can last up to two years and drastically reduces the cost of having to buy normal pads or tampons every month.