On our last trip to Zambia in the area of Mfuwe, we sustained the Menstrual Hygiene Program by Project Luangwa.
Many girls in the rural areas in developing countries can either not afford or get access to sanitary wear (traditional methods western women make use of during menstruation). Because of such difficulties, girls who reached puberty, miss up to a week of school every month. This sums up to 25% of their education, which can therefore affect their academic success.
Together with local women, Project Luangwa designed washable pads that are comfortable and safe to use.
The pads are made with a 3 to 5 layers of bamboo fleece (for either normal or heavy flow) as absorbent layers and a layer of PUL fabric (PUL is a waterproof but breathable fabric). The layer of bamboo and PUL are wrapped in two layers of cotton: soft cotton worn next to the skin and an outer layer of bright patterned cotton. The pads are fastened with a single plastic KAM popper into the crutch of the pants.
This topic is very delicate as there are different cultural beliefs and taboos, discretion is therefore crucial. The pads come with a "modesty hanger" which allows women to wash and dry their pads in the sun without exposing them to others.
We found it important to help this project financially as many people give such access for granted. But in areas of poverty, and where the ability to attend school for a girl is already a privilege (a family rather send the boys to school), it is important to support girls allowing them to attend school even when on their period.