I have not had a period for years…… you see , I have a Mirena…..and thankfully for me, it works well.
Recently however, I had to purchase sanitary protection……
My daughter needed this for the first time!
Standing in the supermarket, staring at the different brands and options I had a very sobering thought……
What did women do before tampons and pads?
What do women do today?
Can everyone afford this? Today, the cost of a pack of disposable pads or tampons can be anything from R35 to R50 for a pack of ten.
Tampons and pads as they exist today , are a relatively new solution to the age – old event of monthly bleeding experienced by women as long as we have walked the earth.
Before the disposable pad was invented, most women used rags, cotton, or sheep’s wool in their underwear to stem the flow of menstrual blood. Even knitted pads, rabbit fur, and grass were used.
The idea of the disposable pad was born on the battlefields in France when nurses using bandages made from wood pulp realised that this product was not only very absorbent, but also cheap enough to throw away afterwards. …and it could be used for much more than just the soldier’s wounds. Commercially Johnson & Johnson (yes they have been around for that long) thought the idea was great and so used it to birth their first sanitary towel in 1896!
INDULGE ME FOR A MOMENT…..
We live in a time when the world is full of possibility and information is instant. Advances in technology and healthcare occur at an astounding rate…..
Yet there are people on the planet that are not privileged to be part of this journey….
In our own country………..
There are 9 000 000 girls in South Africa between the ages of 13 and 19.
This is the school going age of menstruating girls.
85% of these girls don’t go to school whilst menstruating
Because they have no access to proper sanitary protection
THAT IS 1 WEEK OF EVERY MONTH OR 10 TO 12 WEEKS A YEAR
This problem is not uniquely South African. Or even African!
KENYA. ETHIOPIA. UGANDA. RWANDA. INDIA. BANGLADESH.
ALL REPORT SIMILAR CHALLENGES.
In South Africa, girls use leaves, soil, twigs and sometimes even patties made of cow dung!
WOULD WE EVER ENTERTAIN THIS FOR OURSELVES OR OUR DAUGHTERS?????
It is not only the hygiene issues and infection risks that we need to think about…
The impact of lost education…..
We know from many sources including Kofi Annan, the previous UN Secretary General that ‘there is no tool for development more effective than the education of girls. No other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity, lower infant and maternal mortality, improve nutrition and promote health’ (cited in UNICEF, 2008).
So what are the solutions?
ENTER South Africa’s own Susan Barnes. An amazing women and role model.
She has provided one such solution! Workable in the South African context!
The SUBZ PAD http:// www.subzpads.co.za and Project Dignity http://www.projectdignity.org.za/
Susan has been the driving force behind the design and manufacture of a cotton panty that can have a fully washable re- usable sanitary towel attached to it. She has created a packaged solution which includes a pack of 3 panties, 9 pads and an instruction card .Coupled to this is an on-site teaching programme aimed at educating girls about their bodies and their health. Her ideas and enthusiasm have been well received by the girls in disadvantaged communities. Especially since each pack can last up to 5 years.
Talk about a sustainable solution!!!!
Made even more attractive because of this frightening statistic:
ONE DISPOSABLE SANITARY TOWEL TAKES BETWEEN 400 TO 800 YEARS TO DEGRADE DEPENDING ON THE DEGREE OF SYNTHETIC MATERIALS AND PRESERVATIVES CONTAINED WITHIN IT.
Now I am not advocating we all ditch our regular mass produced sanitary pads …..Rather ,be aware of the situation…
Look for an alternative if possible……
And make a conscious decision!