By Shana Greene | Executive Director, Village Volunteers
The title may be somewhat misleading since it would be foolish to claim that we are meeting the needs of girls. What we mean by this statement is that with hygiene supplies and education, they can meet their own needs.
While needs are being met with a simple sanitary pad, the women who work at the sanitary pad plants have completely transformed their own lives with this project in India and in Kenya. The women who work in these women's cooperatives support themselves and their children. In the past, their lives were filled with abuse and many threatened daily by pimps and johns, Those of us who witness the lives of women who struggle are compelled to do whatever we can to give them a leg up. That's why its especially important to thank you for your kindness in donating to buy pads from the women to give to the most vulnerable girls.
Our mission is to "support sustainable solutions to community challenges' and now in our sixteenth year of working towards those goals, we are able to say it works. Once we built the plants and set up the programs, the woman are empowered and working hard to succeed as entrepreneurs. If the product was free, the business would not be self sufficient.
The girls who cannot buy pads even if very cheap, are the ones we target to give pads to so that they will not resort to prostitution to buy hygiene supplies. As terrible as it sounds, its true and must stop with a little help from donors like you. We watch young girls turn into women with educational support and hygiene protection. It's as simple as that.
There is no doubt that it’s you who has made the sanitary pad companies what they are today. There is also no doubt that we need support to make them even more effective. To employ women who are marginalized in their community, to free a woman who has been enslaved as a sex worker or trafficked at 10, or a daughter of a sex worker who is in an intergenerational prostitution family. This is no small task. It’s one thing to free a woman who lives in a red light district but those who are born into this hell will never be free unless they are educated and have employment that does not degrade their lives and self-esteem.
We think about self-esteem as feeling good about oneself but how about feeling like beatings and enslavement that take away every ounce of dignity as a human being defines you.
The sanitary pad companies are sanctuaries which is why we are hoping to expand to add more locations, employ more women and buy more pads for vulnearble women. Your donations buy pads for girls in school who have no means to buy pads and would be extremely desperate and vulnerable to continue to attend school.
When we wire money to pad companies, it feels great that we are letting women know that we care about them and see them as worthy of a life free of violence.
And so, they keep on keeping on as they work daily to make pads and fill voids where women's hygiene is a matter of dignity and determination to keep moving forward. A monthly donation is what keeps us going.
By Shana Greene | Executive Director, Village Volunteers
Thank you for your past support of the sanitary pad project. Adequate management of menstrual hygiene is taken for granted, however, inadequate menstrual hygiene is a major problem for girls and women in resource-poor countries, which adversely affects the health and development of adolescent girls.
Why is a biodegradable pad the ultimate solution?
It is easily manufactured by women who have been marginalized giving them dignified employment.
Manufacturing this pad harvests water hyacinth, which is one of the world’s most destructive aquatic weeds. It doubles in size every 6-18 days; inhibits fishing, decreases fresh water; threatens biodiversity and is a breeding ground for disease-carrying parasites.
The pad uses “green film” which is biodegradable and composts in rudimentary sanitation systems, like a pit latrine, and
This pad promotes healthy menstrual hygiene decreasing the chance of serious health issues, including bacterial and urinary tract infections, reproductive tract diseases, increased risk of HIV/AIDS, cervical cancer (Survey by AC Nielson, 2011), in women and girls.
We are often asked why we don't promote cloth pads that are made by many nonprofit groups who are hoping to help girls and women or other hygiene options..
Why not other available options?
Reusable cloth pads can lead to bacterial and fungal infections. With no soap and clean water readily available or privacy to wash and dry the pads, many dry them under their beds to be out of sight. This leads to bacterial and fungal infections that can travel to the uterus for more serious issues.
Commercial sanitary pads that use plastic are burned and amplify local waste issues.
Tampons are dangerous with extended use and often carry a social taboo.
Menstrual cups are impractical without running water and potentially dangerous without fuel to properly boil and sanitize. They are also culturally inappropriate in many regions around the world.
The biodegradable sanitary pad companies in India and Kenya are doing well and the women are working to grow their company. With you supporting girls with biodegradable sanitary pads, you are also supporting women's employment.
Please consider telling your friends and family about our project—you can share this link to our GlobalGiving project on social media, or just bring us up in conversation. Sharing with your community why you chose to support our organization will help us increase the work we can do for girls and women..
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