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Doorway to Dignity end period poverty campaign

Period poverty affects women and girls worldwide who cannot afford safe, hygienic menstrual products, and raising awareness of period poverty and its implications is critical.Poor menstrual hygiene caused by a lack of education, limited access to hygienic menstrual products and poor sanitation infrastructure undermines the educational opportunities, health and overall social status of women and girls around the world.

As a result, millions of women and girls are kept from reaching their full potential.About 30% of girls in South Africa miss up to four consecutive days of school every month because they don’t have access to products to manage their periods in a dignified way.Thousands of homeless women face a crisis when they have their periods. From coping with infections to being unable to purchase menstrual supplies, keeping safe and clean
on the streets is not easy.

Doorway to Dignity, in association with The Pad Princess, has put together an eco-friendly and cost-efficient reusable menstrual pad kit. This kit will help women and girls to manage their periods in a dignified way. At the same time, they will be helping the environment by reducing the amount of sanitary waste that ends up as landfill (the average woman usesup to 16 800 disposable pads and/or tampons in her lifetime).

The kit, which costs R 150, includes:
• A small bucket with a lid
• 3 reusable pads
• Washing powder and measuring scoop
• Vinegar
• A drawstring bag
• A pack of feminine wipes

Reusable pads have many advantages: they are healthy, cost-effective, long-lasting,environmentally friendly and easy to clean. The pads have several absorbent layers to prevent leakages and are constructed so as to provide maximum comfort. The outer layer of fabric comes in a range of pretty colours to help women and girls to feel extra special at a difficult time of the month.

Our initial goal of 1 000 kits will be distributed to schools, women’s shelters and women living on the streets. Beyond empowering girls and women, the pad project has farreaching benefits, including job creation, skills development and protecting the environment.

The drawstring bag reusable pads that are contained in the kit enables skill development and job creation. Project Intombi operates from Emthonjeni Zandspruit Community Centre, and employs local women from within the Zandspruit informal settlement.

Income generating through the sewing project supports the livelihoods and generates income for the women to support their families. 28 May 2021 was Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day), a global advocacy platform that
brings together the voices and actions of non-profits, government agencies, individuals, the private sector and the media to promote good menstrual hygiene management for all women and girls. In the weeks prior to MH Day, we distributed menstrual products, cupcakes and tea to two clinics – Westbury Clinic on 21 May and Windsor Clinic on 28 May.

Just after MH Day, we distributed 50 of the reusable pad kits to grade 7s at Westbury Primary School.This is an ongoing campaign we are collecting menstrual products and distributing them on an ongoing basis. The opportunity to interact with and speak to the people who are most affected by period poverty is invaluable. Very often, impromptu question and answer sessions develop, which has a positive result for all concerned. An essential element of the campaign is to continually raise awareness and start the conversation on a topic characterised by persisting taboos and stigma.

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