I just found out about a cool new campaign called the She 28 Campaign by Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) that combines microfinancing/microenterprise and menstruation management for girls & women in developing countries. The initiative sounds great because it offers a way to help women manage menstruation so they do not have to miss school or work but also provides an opportunity for sustainable income generation for a group of women. The promotional video is very informative and can be viewed here but claims that women typically lose 50 days a year of school or work to their periods because they cannot afford or do not have access to sanitary pads. I guess this is a global average because all the literature I have read about this issue claims that menstruation take a much larger toll on women's productive capabilities. In the book Half the Sky, authors Kristoff and WuDunn touch on this topic and explain that many girls drop out of school all together once their periods begin, a much more detrimental toll that missing 50 school days per year. I wonder where they came up with this number and whether or not they should of explained its sources in their campaign promotion. I guess the bottom line is that women all over the world do not have sufficient access to sanitary supplies, which is just another disadvantageous source to woman's productive progression and the sustainable, fair growth of the developing world.
Much more humanitarian attention should be focused on helping women in developing nations manage menstruation. I do think that initiatives, including the SHE campaign, should consider supplies other than sanitary pads for environmental reasons. There are a number of choices of menstrual cups that slash the amount of generated waste when compared to sanitary pads and tampons. I mean really how effective will all the sanitary pads be if they are just adding to the pollution of the planet? But the results of effectively managed menstruation could be enormous... increased educational attainment leads to decreased pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and greater self esteem, not to mention more earning potential and increase in higher education aspirations. I guess this is just another example of simple humanitarian initiatives that target women but serve the greater good. I highly recommend reading Half the Sky for more blaring examples such as this. This book outlines a number of inexpensive ways to help women, help themselves and their communities and show how centuries of misogyny and general ignoring of women's issues has lead us to our current disappointing existence BUT more importantly, ways in which women can lead us to a better tomorrow. Below is the link to the SHE website, show them support.
Sustainable Health Enterprises