Have you heard about the International Day of the Girl? It is a day established by the United Nations General Assembly, dedicated to highlighting the unique needs and challenges girls face, specifically in developing countries. The need and challenge? Something women in most countries take for granted - sanitary napkins.
This year on October 11, Compassion Canada wants to invite both men and women to help combat a problem, that really shouldn't be a problem at all. But Compassion Canada knows this isn't the case for the women in the 25 countries they’re active in.
Here is the problem - sanitary pads cost approximately one dollar for a package of seven. Unfortunately this is a burden for families living in extreme poverty. As a result, women are forced to improvise. Jacky, the director of the Compassion Child development centre at the Mulatsi Church of Uganda shares the following: “One woman told me she uses newspapers; another, rugs; another, cloth from old blankets; and still another said they cut off part of an old mattress.”
Can you imagine having to do this each and every month? It's bad enough we get periods and all the trouble they can bring, but to have to worry about how to catch our flow? As a woman, doesn't that make you want to send over boxes and boxes of sanitary napkins to Uganda?
There is a better way. And remarkably it has come from the men in this community. At first, they were largely ignorant to the needs of their wives and daughters but when the Compassion team in Mulatsi realized that girls were dropping out of school once a month because they had no way to manage their periods, they knew they had to act.
At first they bought and distributed pads to Compassion beneficiaries. However, this was not sustainable and proved expensive. So they applied for funding to teach their communities how to make reusable sanitary pads. One set of seven reusable pads costs $1.50 to make and will last an entire year. And guess who is making them? The men in the village!
The following comes from the Compassion website:
The centre staff first learned how to make the reusable pads, and then conducted training for community members—both women and men. They not only trained Compassion beneficiaries and their parents, but also students at three local schools, and other local leaders, who were then able to teach others in the community. All churches in the group received training, and everyone who received training was asked to train others in turn.
Isn't this great? Do you want to know how you can help? Sponsoring a child with Compassion will help a great deal. But even a donation to Compassion to cover the costs of making the napkins could go a long way, not just in helping women have a stress-free period, but in providing an income for their families too.
For the International Day of the Girl why not sponsor one who is living in poverty? Visit www.compassion.ca.