5 Examples of people taking action to solve big period problems

Today is Menstrual Hygiene Day (MHD), an annual awareness day to highlight all the problems related to menstruation. These problems range from girls lacking access to hygienic period products to girls being shamed for menstruating and not being able to attend school because of it.

The theme of MHD this year is: It’s time for action! The problems around menstruation may seem large overwhelming (where do we start?!), but we believe that everyone has the power to take action to solve them ✊. Whether it’s starting a conversation with your neighbour or starting a petition to make real policy change, every step, no matter how small can make an impact.

Today we are sharing these 5 examples of people thinking outside of the box and taking action to solve problems in their communities related to menstruation:

1. Daisy Wakefield in Bristol, United Kingdom

 

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The Problem:

Many students at Daisy’s university, UWE are unable to afford period products like tampons and pads. For many it’s hard enough to get by while studying and working a part-time job, but the high costs of period products in the UK add another significant cost to students’ already tight budget.

The Solution:

Daisy created some controversy by taking action when her university would not. She used a portion of her own student loans to supply free period products at her university. She bought tampons and designed a new packaging and distributed them in the toilets at her university. This sent a powerful message and therefore received a lot of attention in the media and at Daisy’s uni. The outcome was exactly what she wanted. Three days ago Daisy announced on her Instagram, “I am now proud to say after a long fight my university will now be supplying free sanitary products in female and gender-neutral toilets and I will be working closely with them to destigmatize menstruation as a whole.” What a bloody triumph.

2. Mary Kalsrap in Vanuatu:

Source: Jess Sommers/CARE

The Problem:

In Vanuatu, an island nation in the South Pacific nearly 75% of girls are missing school every month because they have their period. The missed days can add up to a month of missed school every year. Imagine missing a month of school every year, simply because you have your period! That’s a month of lost education; a month of missing out on opportunities that come so readily to boys.

The Solution:

Mary sews reusable sanitary pads with her organisation, Mama’s Leaf supported by CARE. The washable menstrual pads are distributed to communities across Vanuatu, where women often do not have access to menstrual products, instead using old cloth or other unreliable and unhygienic substitutes and missing days of work and school as a result. This is one of CARE’s Menstrual Hygiene Management projects designed to break down stigmas around menstruation and to empower women through employment and access to menstrual products.

3. The writers of V- van Vulva tot Vagina in the Netherlands

 

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The Problem:

There’s lack of factual knowledge available about the vulva because of a taboo culture around this subject. Mariah Mansvelt Beck, co-founder of Yoni and six others (Sarah van Binsbergen, Meredith Greer, Emma Curvers, Persis Bekkering, Tineke Kuipers en Bregje Hofstede) found that there wasn’t much literature available that didn’t beat around the bush and gave straight forward and honest information about vulvas, menstruation, menopause, birth control, labour, hormones, and other topics related to reproductive health. The lack of dialouge around these topics is perfectly illustrated in the fact that many people do not know the difference between the vagina and the vulva (do you?)

The Solution:

They wrote the book V — van Vuvla tot Vagina (Translated: V — from Vulva to Vagina). The book contains a goldmine of facts about the woman’s body as well as relatable personal stories by women who are experts on the different topics like the pill, labour, and HPV. The idea is to empower women to understand how their bodies work and to start conversations about these topics without shame. The book devotes a whole chapter to menstruation which includes a historical overview of periods. Fun fact: did you know the word period did not appear on TV until 1985 in a commercial for Tampax?

4. Four young students who founded the social enterprise, Resurgence in Bangladesh

 

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The Problems:

Underprivileged communities in Bangladesh are unable to afford menstrual products and Bangladesh suffers from an overgrowth of an aggressive plant.

The Solution:

These four young students, Ivana Asfara, Rafayet Khan, Naziba Wafa, and Mashiyat Rahman found a way to manufacture a low-cost, biodegradable menstrual pad made out of water hyacinth. This is an aggressive plant species of which there is an overgrowth in Bangladesh. What a bloody creative idea that solves 2 big problems in Bangladesh.

5. Ella Daish battling a world wide problem

 

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The Problem:

Conventional period products contain up to 90% plastic which is a huge contributing factor to the plastic soup that is polluting our oceans.

The Solution:

Ella Daish has started a petition in order to get all period products to be biodegradable and plastic-free. Society is making strides in decreasing the production and use of single-use plastics like plastic bags and straws and it’s time to take period products into account as well. The petition has resulted in almost 200.000 signatures (go sign!) and a meeting with Procter & Gamble (owners of Tampax and Always) about how to reduce period plastic in their products.

We love that these change makers have taken it upon themselves to find solutions to the big period problems with and for their communities. Let these projects inspire you to do the same. If you see a problem in your community you don’t have to leave it up to the government to solve them.

A problem that we’ve set our minds to, is the lack of specific rules or regulations when it comes to listing ingredients on feminine care packaging. We believe all women should know what their products are made of. That’s why we put what’s in the box on the box. Our products contain no perfumes, no plastics and no secrets. By leading the way at Yoni, we hope other companies will follow suit. Break taboos with us and join our community here.