Menstrual cups are proving to be lifesavers, and are changing the way girls in East Africa deal with something every single female in the world does: their period.
Most women in the western world don’t have to think twice when that time of the month comes, and head out to a pharmacy or grocery store to find supplies to deal with the inconvenience. It’s not as simple in East Africa, where a sanitary napkin sells for about $.85.
You see, the average daily income in that part of the world is a mere $1.27, and there are many more things to buy with that amount of money. The menstrual cups help girls avoid the use of things such as newspaper, rags, cotton, bits of mattress stuffing, and even mud, according to the Huffington Post Canada.
Yes, that’s right. Girls in East Africa don’t have sanitary napkins, much less tampons, available to use when they are on their period, and they must be very inventive. However, these methods can not only be uncomfortable to wear, but can bring serious infections.
The menstrual cups allow girls to stay healthy, while allowing them to participate in daily activities available to women all over the globe, including school, work, and sports. Unlike tampons, which contain bleaches and can cause serious side effects, the menstrual cups are made of surgical grade silicone.
The contraption is inserted into the vagina to collect the menstrual fluid, and represent a much healthier option for a woman’s body than traditional tampons. It is placed about a half an inch inside the vagina, which creates a vacuum seal that prevents leaks.
Menstrual cups offer about 12 hours of protection, are comfortable, and do not leak. They are re-usable for up to 10 years, which lowers what girls in East Africa have to spend for sanitary products.
For most women who live in the west, their period — aside from being inconvenient and painful — is not something that can bring financial chaos. However, for women living in underdeveloped regions of the world, it’s an economic hazard.
Girls in Kenya miss five days of school on average due to their periods, but with the availability of menstrual cups, they no longer have to suffer being made fun of or having their family decide whether to buy sanitary pads or dinner.
Femme International’s Feminine Health Management Program distributes menstrual cups, alongside critical education and hygiene materials to schoolgirls in East Africa, helping them stay safe, healthy, and in school every day of the year. Femme International is focused on advancing the rights of women and girls through gender targeted programs that focus on menstruation, sexual health, and feminine hygiene.