Celebrate Solutions: How Reusable Sanitary Pads are Empowering Women in Uganda

By: Brittany Tatum, Women Deliver

Imagine you are a young girl or woman, who has begun to menstruate and the only thing you had available to you in the realm of sanitary products were pieces of foam, toilet paper, or banana fibers. For some girls and women that’s a reality they face every month. They face embarrassment and vulnerability to infections, all because they can’t access or afford proper menstrual hygiene management (MHM).  This becomes an even larger problem when young girls miss school because of their periods. A study done in Uganda in 2013 showed that over 60 percent of girls skip school during their period. That’s where organizations like AFRIpads come into play.

AFRIpads is an organization working in Uganda to ensure that girls and women have access to cost-effective reusable sanitary pads. In 2008 on a trip to Uganda, AFRIpads founders Sophia Klumpp and Paul Grinvals saw firsthand the lack of sanitary options available for young girls. “We came to realize that many women and girls rely on makeshift substitutes such as old rags, newspapers, and even leaves to manage their menstrual flow.” In an interview with  Mamamia Women's Network Klumpp said, “It should come as no surprise that these materials lead to general discomfort, embarrassing leaks, and even infections.”

During the trip, they also discovered that many girls in the area would skip school during their periods because they didn’t have access to any sanitary products. The couple started the project in 2010 and are committed to helping girls and women break barriers that menstruation creates in their lives and help them reach their full potential.

Not only is AFRIpads providing girls and women with the sanitary options they need, but they are creating jobs in Uganda. They provide full-time, formal-sector employment to over 150 Ugandans, 90 percent of whom are women. AFRIpads trains Ugandan women to manufacture reusable sanitary pads, and then works with partners, like Plan International, who purchase the pads and sell them to local vendors. This allows vendors to sell pads to girls and women in the area for affordable prices while still making a profit.

As of 25 March 2015, AFRIpads had reached 500,000 girls and women with their menstrual kits. Within the next year they hope to build a factory which will enable them to scale up production capacity, as well as have all of their employees under one roof.

To learn more about AFRIpads please visit their website, here.


Photo via: Plan, Canda

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