Period poverty is real and impacting folks in your city today.
Here's how you can help.
Period poverty is real and impacting folks in your city today.
Here's how you can help.
Over the last week, your social feed might’ve been a little bit more period positive than you’re used to. That’s because May 28 was Menstrual Hygiene Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness of the challenges people face because of their periods and how we might address those challenges.
Now hold up. Some of you might be thinking, “OK, OK, so cramps are evil and sometimes my period seriously takes me out for an entire day, but what’s this whole ‘menstrual hygiene’ thing? Are you implying my period makes me dirty? Rude.”
Not at all. Your period is a natural bodily function. But across the globe – and even in your own neighborhood – there are people experiencing homelessness and poverty who:
So what are they using for period products? Sadly, anything they can find, including rags, newspapers, bunched up toilet paper and any other materials they can find to create makeshift pads and tampons. This is incredibly unhygienic, and it’s causing people to get infections, miss school, miss work, ruin what few clothes they might have, and much more.
We shouldn’t let this happen if we’re able to help. When periods are a fact of life for people with uteruses, people shouldn’t be forced to create unclean, makeshift period products.
And that’s the whole point of Menstrual Hygiene Day. Even though periods are a natural bodily function, they’re still (oddly) a taboo subject, so we still need a big awareness campaign to educate people about the problem.
Menstrual Hygiene Affects Us All
So Menstrual Hygiene Day is a big step for period positivity, but the campaign’s got a long way to go as far as inclusivity goes. The Menstrual Hygiene Day campaign materials are designed with the gender binary in mind. They’re very pink, feature only graphics of girls, and use gendered language. Basically, they think only girls get periods.
Not only are women not the only people who get periods, but they’re also not the only people who experience poverty and homelessness. In both Canada and the United States, transgender communities face a higher level of poverty and homelessness than cisgender communities. And many trans people report facing discrimination at shelters because they are transgender.
Imagine the challenges the trans communities face when it comes to menstrual hygiene. I mean, how are you supposed to get period products when people don’t even believe you get a period?
Let’s say it together: menstrual hygiene affects us all.
Menstrual Hygiene is a Year-Round Issue
Menstrual Hygiene Day may only be one day a year, but that doesn’t mean our efforts to help those in need should only happen on May 28.
Globally, Menstrual Hygiene Day events will continue through June, with:
More locally – and on the opposite coast from where Lunapads is located – The Period Purse, a grassroots organization that provides purses filled with pads, tampons and wellness items directly to the homeless, abused and impoverished across Canada, is hosting several events in the Toronto area to support menstrual hygiene awareness:
And, remember, Lunapads created the program One4Her in partnership with AFRIpads. A portion of Lunapads’ gross annual sales plus customer donations goes toward projects that support menstrual and reproductive health in Uganda. That means you’re making a difference just by shopping Lunapads. How cool is that?
Cover image courtesy of The Homeless Period.
Mika Doyle is a writer and poet whose work has appeared in Bitch Media, Role/Reboot, and Everyday Feminism (under a pseudonym). Follow her on Twitter at @mikadoyle and visit her website at mikadoyle.com.
One of the most satisfying things we do here at Lunapads is run the Pads4Girls & One4Her projects - this allows us to help encourage and empower global menstrual hygiene organizations. One we partnered with recently, The Unmentionables, is providing pads and underwear to migrant women trapped in refugee camps in Greece. The Unmentionables' Kayleigh Heard shared with us her reflections on why menstrual hygiene is so important, and why they chose to provide reusable period underwear through their programs. We were so thrilled to be able to help!
Last Saturday I was climbing a mountain. Not metaphorically, but physically climbing a mountain. Now let's just say I'm not a champion hiker. I LOVE hiking...on my own. When I can go slow, and avoid speaking to others while I swallow my tears and intimately process the misery occurring in my calves. But I was hiking with others and (as if that wasn't enough), after hurling several streams of choice words at trees, and rocks, and innocent hiking buddies, when we finallllyyyyyy made it to the top...IT HAPPENED. The dreaded cramps hit. You know what I'm talking about. HELLO PERIOD, so kind of you to join me on my mountaintop. And there I was, 5 miles away from the car, tampon-less, pad-less, period underwear-less, surrounded by people, and MORTIFIED.
There is no worse feeling than when the cramps hit and you're ENTIRELY unprepared.
There is no worse feeling than when the cramps hit and you're ENTIRELY unprepared. Now normally I'd say nothing good can come from a situation like this. I mean, you're hiking, you smell terrible, there are pine needles in places there never should be, and then you get the cramps. But awesomely, this terrifying moment gave me a brief glimpse into what a migrant woman would experience having her period during her journey, and gave me an extra boost of passion for what The Unmentionables does.
See, I may have been wholly unprepared and five miles from the car but the only thing that was bothering me was the potential for embarrassment and ruined shorts. There was never a doubt in my mind that I didn't have access to or couldn't afford period products or wouldn't be able to change my clothes, I had just (in typical fashion) forgotten to keep track of when Aunt Flo would arrive. But this isn't the reality for migrant women and girls.
When these women and girls get their periods, either during their journeys or when living in refugee camps, they have no choice but to resort to using leaves, garbage, and pieces of old mattresses to manage their monthly cycle – not because they mismanaged their period app, but because when you don't stop to grab your box of Always when you're fleeing a war zone. On top of that, when the necessary products are available, they're often distributed in public, one at a time, and usually by men. Can you imagine having to go out into the middle of your street, every 6 hours, and ask someone you don't know for a pad? The anxiety I felt was a one time thing, but the anxiety, shame, and indignity they feel is hour by hour, month by month.
Can you imagine having to go out into the middle of your street, every 6 hours, and ask someone you don't know for a pad?
So, as we get ready for our summer projects I am spending time with our period partners – from Vancouver, British Columbia to Port Jefferson, New York. What am I doing on this Period Roadtrip exactly? I'm literally picking up thousands and thousands of period products for distribution to refugee women and girls and hanging out with our partners that are passionate about making that time of the month a little less mortifying for vulnerable women.
Our most exciting pick-up thus far has been with Lunapads. I've actually HAD Lunapads for a while now, loved them, and learned three incredible things in partnering with them that has made me love them even more. First, they are headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, my adopted hometown, five minutes from my old house. As a proud Canadian it always makes me a little extra excited to partner with organizations in my own backyard. Secondly, they are the longtime partners of the people behind the DivaCup (you know, that menstrual cup that's taken the world by storm?!)! So cool! And third, that this company has one of the biggest hearts I've ever seen for bettering the lives of women and girls around the world.
From the time we reached out to Lunapads about supporting our work through their Pads4Girls program they were full of fiery spirit, and passion for The Unmentionables. Because of their big hearts we are able to provide 100 migrant women and girls with reusable period products in Greece this summer. Yes, I said REUSABLE. Here's the thing. I (and probably you) grew up with endless access to period products in my house. I never thought twice about it, they were always just there. But did you know the average woman uses anywhere from 18 to 24 tampons or pads PER PERIOD? That's between 200 to 300 period products per year for just ONE woman.
The sheer number of products we needed per period hit our team square in the face when we were calculating how many pads we would need to serve the 100 women that were residing in the Souda camp in Chios, Greece in March. Here's the math – 100 women and girls = 2400 pads for one month. By providing women and girls reusable feminine hygiene underwear kits Lunapads is allowing us to do two things. First, the underwear functions as normal underwear so we are able to provide 100 women three pairs of underwear each. Second, each pair of underwear comes complete with a reusable pad insert that lasts up to a year with proper use and care. This not only allows us to provide these women and girls a year's worth of menstrual products but also allows us to cut the environmental impact of feminine hygiene products by 29,000 pads per year, just by providing reusable products to 100 women.
Think about that impact. Think about the dignity, hygiene, security, and relief from anxiety these kits are providing. Think about the environmental impact. This is Smart Aid in action. We are so grateful to Lunapads and their #Pads4Girls program helping us provide dignity through hygiene to migrant women and girls.
Girls know that education is their only path to self-sufficiency. It is their only chance to shape their own fate rather than having the limits of their lives dictated to them by others.—Let Girls Learn founder Michelle Obama
MOYODEI is youth-led community organization based in Morogoro, Tanzania. Earlier this year, MOYODEI was selected as a recipient of a One4Her donation of 250 AFRIpads kits to support their team of peer educators in delivering puberty education to local youth. We recently received an update on their distribution efforts. Read on to find out how your purchases are supporting puberty education and menstrual equity for students in Tanzania!
To give you a bit of a background, the “Girls Club” is MOYODEI’s founding program. Our team of peer educators conducts educational outreach at schools and within the community with the aim of improving knowledge, behaviors and self awareness among youth. These dedicated young women use peer education, discussion, debate and drama to addresses critical issues such as sexual health, gender discrimination and environmental protection.
This year the Girls Club has focused on forming school health clubs at primary and secondary schools in remote areas where health education is lacking and most needed. They visit the clubs twice a month, covering topics such as puberty, the reproductive system, condom use and STIs.
Since March they have reached 5 schools and 1 community group, educating over 250 boys and girls on the topic of menstruation, including an AFRIpads demonstration. The schools vary from those closer to the town of Morogoro, to those in remote locations, only accessible by local transportation.
Having benefited from the AFRIpads first-hand since January, our peer educators have become experts at explaining their proper usage: the 12-month use period, tips on how to wear (they’ve started bringing demo underwear to show how it all fits together!), cleaning and drying, and bringing an extra pad to school.
I can tell you from seeing the girls when they receive an AFRIpad package, each recipient has a big smile on their face. The male students also receive the education, helping to increase their knowledge of the reproductive system and reduce stigma. It’s not uncommon for the Girls Club to arrive at a school to find 200 students eager to learn!
Many girls stay home from school during their period. The Girls Club leaders mentioned to me how many students use local solutions, such as folded kanga material, which is uncomfortable and unreliable. They explained to me that menstruation education is rarely covered in schools, resulting in students feeling uncomfortable explaining the reason they were absent to their teacher. We thought you might appreciate a quote from our two Girls Club leaders themselves:
“The AFRIpads help us as peer educators as a visual teaching tool when we provide education on menstruation. The pads also help the students feel comfortable attending school on their days of bleeding and reduce their absenteeism.” - Zainabu Ramadhani Mponda, Girls Club Peer Health Educator (translated from Swahili)
“The AFRIpads allow us to provide education at distant villages and still feel comfortable traveling and teaching. We don’t have to miss a day of field work due to our period. We are very happy to have such good quality pads that are thinner and more absorbent than local solutions (bulky, folded kanga material). We can run, play netball and not miss a day of work.” - Hadija Baraka Muro, Girls Club Peer Health Educator (translated from Swahili)
We were first contacted by Maji Safi Group in 2013. As a health promotion and disease prevention educational organization based in a rural Tanzania, Maji Safi Group (MSG) runs programs that give community members culturally sensitive and safe ways to change water, sanitation and hygiene behaviors.
MSG identified the need for a sustainable menstrual hygiene solution when their Community Water Workers discovered a serious lack of sanitary materials, receptacles for waste, and information on puberty and menstruation. Lunapads was able to provide a donation of 250 AFRIpads kits through One4Her, to support the organization's fledgling Menstrual Hygiene Program.
Since then MSG has continued to keep Menstrual Health Management (MHM) as a top priority. Their MHM Program has expended to reach their entire district and they now broadcast a disease prevention and health promotion radio show to over 3,500 listeners, often focusing on the importance of using menstrual products like AFRIpads.
This year, MSG held an International Women's Day celebration to supply AFRIpads Kits - again supplied through One4Her - to their hygiene program participants. In addition to receiving washable pads, students were given vital menstrual health management education to support reaching their full academic potential. Young women from the program performed an original song and skit about having your first period at school and the benefits of reusable pads.
MSG continues to bring the conversation about menstruation out into the open, breaking the silence and smashing taboos in the process. Thank you to MSG for their incredible work, and to our customers for helping us make a difference by choosing Lunapads!
Last May, we launched a special One4Her campaign in partnership with Diva International Inc. to provide sustainable menstrual supplies to students at the Pader Girls Academy. For every DivaCup we sold, Diva International Inc. pledged to donate 1 AFRIpads Kit, providing a reusable supply of cloth pads for a minimum of 12 menstrual cycles.
For those unfamiliar with this story, the Pader Girls Academy is a unique secondary boarding school in rural Northern Uganda that was founded in 2008 to support child mothers escaping LRA captivity. Tragically, many of these young survivors faced stigma and rejection from their families & communities due to their association as "wives" to rebel commanders — despite knowing that they had been brutalized and taken against their will.
Today, the school has broadened its mission to also provide social, academic, and vocational opportunities to girls who have aged out of their grade level or who lack financial resources as a result of the ongoing conflict. It's the only school in the region where those who are pregnant or have children can receive quality education and free childcare.
Thanks to your purchases, we surpassed our initial goal of 500 and were able to provide the school with a total of 524 AFRIpads Kits to distribute to its students.
In September, we received an update from Denis Ongaya, PGA's Deputy Program Director. He let us know that the donation made possible by your support would really help those studying at the academy stay in class during their periods — removing menstruation as a barrier to achieving their educational goals.
His letter went on to explain the critical role that reusable pads play in circumventing what he calls the "downward spiral of vulnerability". He tells us that girls who cannot access basic necessities like menstrual products are at an increased risk for abuse and exploitation from men who would demand sex in exchange for these (and other) essential resources.
We heard the same in 2014 from Maggie Crosby, a graduate student who traveled to PGA with the aim of developing the school's first sexual and reproductive health curriculum. While in Pader, she learned that many girls in the community were introduced into a cycle of poverty and pregnancy as a result of the kinds of coercion mentioned above. Through her interviews at the school, it became clear that a stronger sense of agency, bodily autonomy, and more empowered lives overall would begin with ensuring that the students' most basic needs were met. Indeed, when girls were asked what health resources would be most useful to them, they told her, overwhelmingly, that pads were a top priority.
PGA is a community of girls who have been stripped of their power. Poverty happens to them, sex happens to them, pregnancy happens to them. To see these strong young women reclaiming their voices, taking initiative, and finding a sense of control over even one aspect of their lives is thrilling—especially when that one seemingly small thing—menstruation—can have such a ripple effect on other areas of their lives and on the rest of their lives.
— Maggie Crosby
We feel so fortunate for the opportunity to lend our support to this incredible organization, and to the limitless futures of the students at Pader Girls Academy. If you would like to take part in our other social change initiatives, consider shopping to support One4Her or making a donation to Pads4Girls.
We recently connected with our longtime Pads4Girls colleague Rachel Starkey to learn about the impact that the Transformation Textiles (TT) Malawi pilot project is having one year later. This is a cheerful story of perseverance and genuine social impact.
Rachel is one of our most treasured compatriots in the MHM (menstrual health management) field, a true pioneer and fearless "heretic to the status quo". Transformation Textile's magic lies in its ability to transform fabric waste into size-adjustable underwear and washable pads, providing an innovative solution to MHM needs while significantly reducing landfill waste.
Following a visit with Rachel in Egypt in 2012 where she and I designed the undies, Lunapads agreed to participate in a pilot program where Rachel would make 10,000 "Dignity Kits" that each included 2 tie-on undies, 2 leak-proof shields and 6 absorbent liners. Thanks to many generous donors to our Pads4Girls Malawi campaign (Danielle LaPorte among them!) Lunapads contributed over two thousand kits for this pilot.
Designing and making the tie-ons was the easy part: creating a new category of exportable “new products reclaimed from textile waste” - as Rachel needed to do to be able to legally export them duty free - would take years of changing mindsets in the textile industry, establishing quality standards, and lobbying Egyptian customs officials. Rachel's years of perseverance prevailed and many unsung heroes made this a reality.
Determined to prove the concept, Rachel would show factory managers where underwear or pads could fit inside the “neck-holes” of existing production orders that were about to be cut and thrown away. She convinced 5 factories to cut the pieces, and then began manufacturing them on a dedicated production line at her factory, Cotton Tales, in Alexandria.
Following delays due to bureaucracy and political unrest in Egypt, thanks to Rachel's perseverance, the kits finally reached Malawi in 2014. The first pilot saw 4379 Kilograms of fabric cuts reclaimed (versus ending in a landfill) making the equivalent of 10,000 Dignity Kits, which filled a 20 foot container with 158 barrels and 163 cartons of reusable products, and extra fabric to make more.
Once the shipment landed in Malawi, Good Hope Ministries took the lead in distributing supplies and delivering menstrual hygiene education and empowerment classes. The need for the menstrual supplies was so great that Good Hope began to give the kits as samples for the girls and women of the community to make more from clean, discarded t-shirts. Good Hope also helped with coordinating kit distributions among four other NGO's: the Jacaranda Foundation, Urunji Child Care Trust (see distribution here), Lifeline Malawi and Urim and Thummin Childcare Trust (see distribution here).
One girl said, “I am a glad with these lessons. We have stayed for a long time in darkness. We followed our grandparent’s culture which have made most girls drop out from school. So we all who have heard these lessons should make use of them she continually said to the young ones’ that they should not hide if they will begin to see menses.”
Here is a story about a student at Mphongo School about the impact of receiving a Dignity Kit and sewing lessons, as told to a Good Hope Ministries volunteer.
"After I distributed the questionnaire papers to women, I then went to search for more girls, and on my way I happen to meet a number of girls who were coming from school, before I introduced myself to them they recognized me and when I gave them the questionnaire to answer the questions, one girl called me aside and told me this, “I have a friend who is not with us here, but this girl stopped going to school because she had no girls kit and when she was doing her monthly period, she dirtied her clothes with the staff and boys started to laugh at her. She was then very shy and she told me that she had stopped going to school because of this. A few months later, I was told that this girl had an affair with a young man and she wanted to get married. I told her not to do this and she told me that she has to get married because she has no way of going back to school. I then told her the lessons that you taught us and I shared her one girl’s kit. She was happy to have received the kit. I also taught her how to sew her own kits, she can now sew her own kits and as I am talking she has gone back to school.” I then asked some other volunteers if they can help me to search for this girl. But when we went to her parent’s home we found that she was still at school. Even her parents were very thankful for they lost hope that their girl would go back to school and they told us that she is working hard in her studies."
There are thousands more stories like this. Awareness of MHM as a meaningful development issue is widespread and growing; however, measuring its impact is still in its early days, and remains largely anecdotal. Anecdotal or not, stories like those above are evidence in our eyes that hygiene supplies are essential and can significantly improve girls health, education and well being. While anecdotal storytelling is not sufficiently valued in mainstream research, stories provide compelling evidence and serve to highlight additional impacts that may not be initially obvious when girls receive the pads. Receiving pads and learning how to use and care for them can often be a springboard to important conversations about personal hygiene, self confidence, reproductive wellness, the risk of transmission of HIV/AIDS and more.
Bless you Rachel for your perseverance; because of you, the future looks brighter for thousands of girls and women around the world!
We're thrilled to announce that, for the 2nd year in a row, Diva International has pledged to participate in our One4Her Program with a donation of AFRIpads for every DivaCup sold during May at Lunapads.com. With your support, up to 500 Kits will be distributed at the Pader Girls Academy in Northern Uganda!
ABOUT THE PADER GIRLS ACADEMY
The Pader Girls Academy (PGA) was founded in 2008 to support those struggling to reintegrate into their communities after being abducted and forced into marriage & pregnancy during Uganda’s 25-year civil war. Today, PGA also provides vital educational opportunities to those who have aged out of their grade level or who lack financial resources as a result of the ongoing conflict - and it remains the only school in the region that allows students to attend while pregnant, and to keep their babies with them while continuing their studies.
Although students at PGA have received academic scholarships, many still lack basic everyday necessities. They have overcome incredible challenges, but their life chances continue to be restricted by limited access to safe and effective menstrual products. Many resort to using rags or old t-shirts, or just stay home to avoid embarrassment when these unreliable solutions fail to provide the protection they need.
Here's a followup email we received after last year's donation:
“Last year, your sanitary support to the girls enabled us to excel in the national examination breaking all the previous years records and emerging the best among girls in the district and second best in the entire district. Our best student was a mother who gave birth 2 weeks to the national examination but won in the entire district. Because the pads were available, she had ample time to resume studies early because she would wear the pads and attend classes during the postpartum period. The pads allowed more girls to stay in class as menses never obstructed any further classroom. Thanks to you Helen and DIVAs for this support.”
— Olak Denis Ongaya, PGA Program Director
HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT THE PADER GIRLS ACADEMY
Help us tell this story. Share this post or the messages below with your friends & family. Buy a DivaCup! Every DivaCup purchased at Lunapads.com this month will help the students at Pader Girls Academy achieve their education goals by empowering them to stay in class & focus on their studies -- without worry that their periods will hold them back from reaching their full potential.
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It’s often said that the best things in life can take time, and that relationships are everything. In the case of a unique new tactic that supports education for girls in the developing world, these old adages are more than true.
I was initially contacted online by CottonTales and Transformation Textiles founder Rachel Starkey in the early 2000s, connecting over our shared interest in washable pads. We met in person for the first time in 2003 in Vancouver, when Rachel had returned back to Canada for a family visit from her home in Alexandria, Egypt. Little did I know at the time that our relationship would span decades and continents.
Over the years we have met up in Las Vegas as well as Egypt, every time going deeper on the idea of using mass-scale garment manufacturing to create mass-scale reusable panties and pads to support girls education in the developing world.
Having identified the need for underwear as a key component to the success of the adoption of cloth pad use, together we created an easy-to-make pattern for adjustable-sized undies that could be made from factory offcuts. The process of using leftover wasted fabric and turning it into underwear is where Transformation Textiles gets its name.
The underwear have small strips of fabric in the gusset that can be used to hold simple cloth pads made of a combination of absorbent and waterproof fabrics, which can then be washed and re-used for years without creating disposable waste.
We got an ideal opportunity to test the products when I was approached by Canadian Anna Ebert of Good Hope Ministries in 2012, who had been working for many years in Malawi and had identified the need for personal hygiene supplies and requested enough for a staggering 50,000 girls. Until that point, Pads4Girls donations had been at most 500 kits at a time.
We settled on 10,000 kits as an initial test run, and set out to raise funds to cover shipping a container from Egypt to Malawi. The final landed cost per kit, each of which includes 3 pairs of undies, 9 pads + a carrying bag, is $5. Lunapads reached out to our community and raised $12,500, including $500 from our friend Danielle LaPorte, a highly influential author and speaker.Celebrity support also came via talk show host and filmmaker Ricki Lake, who referred us to Marie Da Silva, Ricki’s former nanny. In 2002, Da Silva, a CNN Hero award recipient, founded the Jacaranda Foundation, a Malawi-based orphanage and school.
Guest blogger Saki Onda is a Masters of Public Health student in the global health department at the Harvard School of Public Health.
The ability to manage our menses safely, comfortably, and with dignity is a luxury that most women and girls in industrialized countries take for granted.
My personal experience with menstruation has always been a positive one – around the age of eight my mother sat me down to explain periods and cooked sekihan or ‘red rice’ when I did reach menarche. In my home country of Japan, this steamed sticky rice and azuki bean dish is prepared on special occasions that call for celebration – one of which is when a girl reaches menarche, although this custom is less frequently practiced nowadays.
Being of Japanese origin but having grown up in international communities in the U.S., France, and the U.K., I have become aware of varying attitudes, practices, and taboos towards menstruation. As a physician and current Master of Public Health student with a focus on reproductive health, menstrual hygiene management (MHM) has become an area of growing interest.
I came across Lunapads when researching organizations and social entrepreneurs working in the area, and Madeleine was kind enough to agree to a video chat about the issues surrounding MHM and Pads4Girls and One4Her, their partnerships with organizations in low-income countries.
Historically, scant attention has been paid to MHM, perhaps because its impact on development and public health are not immediately obvious, and there is no direct morbidity and mortality in the way that maternal and reproductive health has. That said, a new study from India claims that in that country, 70% of all reproductive diseases in that country are related to poor menstrual hygiene.
In addition, people are surprisingly uneasy when it comes to topics surrounding menstruation. I remember approaching a female editor of a ‘green’ newsletter series at my graduate school to suggest doing a piece on menstrual cups and reusable sanitary pads, but was effectively told that readers would be uncomfortable reading about menstrual blood.
However, there is growing literature and public health discourse on MHM, although significant gaps still exist. In 2012, WaterAid published their first edition of a 354-page report titled ‘Menstrual hygiene matters: A resource for improving menstrual hygiene around the world’, and November 2013 saw UNICEF’s second annual virtual conference on MHM in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in schools. Madeleine also pointed to the active community of MHM professionals and advocates, including the myriad of partners involved in the upcoming ‘Menstrual Hygiene Day’ on May 28th.
The significance of MHM is that it has implications for a wide array of issues including education, sanitation, poverty, and female empowerment, to name a few. It also potentially allows segueing into more sensitive topics like sexual health and gender-based violence. Achieving good MHM is complex – available, accessible, appropriate, and cost-effective menstrual hygiene products are needed, along with adequate sanitation and disposal facilities, as well as awareness and education.
Additionally, men and boys have long been excluded from women’s health dialogue. Madeleine shared a fantastic story about schoolboys’ compassion for their female peers once they realized the reason that these classmates were missing school for a week every month.
There has been exciting progress in addressing MHM globally in recent years, and I look forward to following the continuing efforts from non-governmental organizations (NGOs), policy-makers, academics, and social entrepreneurs in this field and to get involved myself in my future career in medicine and public health.
1. Vote for a different kind of business practice. Lunapads is an ethical, social-mission based business. As a certified B Corporation we've had our business audited to ensure we meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. In 2016 we were honored as one of B Corporations Best for the World in the environment category.
2. Feminist values. We've been working to change attitudes towards menstruation for over a decade, and have helped thousands worldwide feel more empowered about their periods, bodies, and consumer choices.
3. Roughly 20 billion pads, tampons and applicators are sent to North American landfills annually. Each menstruator in North America will throw away an estimated 16,800 disposable pads or tampons in their lifetime; products that require hundreds of years to biodegrade. Thanks to those who have already made the switch, more than 1 million disposable pads and tampons are diverted from landfills each month!
4. Reusable menstrual products just might make you feel better about your period. Using soft, cotton Lunapads, comfy leak-free period underwear, and the uber-convenient DivaCup menstrual cup can make your period feel like less of an burden—and may even teach you something new about your body.
5. Disposable pads and tampons have been linked to everything from TSS to contact dermatitis and other skin conditions. Why are there no ingredients labels on pads or tampons? The long term health effects of repeated exposure to chemicals like dioxin and pesticide residues are largely unknown. When you use Lunapads or The DivaCup, you know exactly what you are putting in or on your body.
6. Have a do-it-yourself period and stop getting ripped off every month. Disposable pads and tampons cost at least twice as much as reusables, and they're made by companies unlikely to support your values. We see our products as tools that give you the ability to manage your period on your own terms. You don't have to keep shelling out for more products every month because your Lunapads will last 5+ years with recommended use and care. Go forth and bleed!
7. Your period is an opportunity to support our mission. Lunapads is creating sustainable jobs for women: not just here in Canada, but in Uganda too. In 2008 Lunapads endorsed the startup of a Ugandan pad-making company based on the Lunapads design. Today, AFRIpads employs over 50 women and will supply up to 100,000 schoolgirls with cloth pads so that they can stay in school during their period. Looking for a way to provide ongoing support for AFRIpads, we created One4Her: for every eligible Lunapad purchased, a girl in need will receive a Ugandan-made AFRIpad pad to support her school attendance.
8. Be part of a trans inclusive, progressive community that actually cares about your menstrual health & wellness. When was the last time you had a great conversation about your period with a disposables product manufacturer? Hit us up on Facebook and Twitter, send us an email, chat with us, or call our office to have a different kind of Period Talk.
9. Lunapads are cute, period. Our pads and pantyliners are available in a variety of stylish prints and bright, bold colours so you can have fun with your period and choose products that express your personal style.
10. We stand by our products. If our customer testimonials aren't enough to convince you that you won't regret making the switch, go ahead and try before you buy. We offer 1 Sample Pantyliner to anyone curious about cloth but unsure about making the investment. For the cost of shipping, you'll receive 1 Lunapads Pantyliner and a coupon for $5 off your next order at Lunapads.