Get involved this World Menstrual Hygiene Day
Periods and humanitarian disasters
Women who have lost everything as a result of humanitarian crises tell us that amongst the essential items they need most are sanitary towels, wipes and soap. Without sanitary towels, women and girls are forced to use improvised methods to manage their periods, including torn pieces of clothing and rags, which can cause painful infections.
In humanitarian emergencies, ActionAid provides hygiene kits which can include soap, sanitary towels and clean underwear, helping women and girls manage their periods with dignity.
Refugee women and girls can’t afford sanitary towels
13-year-old Wesal’s mother was killed in an airstrike on their home in Syria. Her father and grandmother tried to take Wesal and her sisters to Jordan – but at the border her father was arrested and taken back to Syria. They don’t know if he is dead or alive.
Now, Wesal and her three sisters are being brought up by their grandmother, Azziza, in Jordan. Without their mum and dad, the family are struggling to get by.
Wesal started her period last year when she was 12. Now, Azziza has to face the agonising choice of whether to buy food or sanitary products for her granddaughters when they have their periods.
Sanitary towels changing lives in Malawi
In Malawi, ActionAid is training mums in communities to make reusable, low-cost sanitary towels for the poorest girls. These simple sanitary pads are changing lives.
Before, girls who couldn’t afford sanitary pads felt unable to go to school because they were teased by boys if their clothes became stained. Now, not only are girls able to stay in school, but their mums are also building long-term businesses by selling their extra products at the market. This provides the mums with opportunities to earn an income and support their families.
Sewing reusable sanitary towels
Mother-of-two Ruth’s sewing machine buzzes all day. She’s busy making sanitary towels for girls in Namalusa village, Malawi.
ActionAid provided the sewing machine, and training on how to use it, to her and other mums who were struggling to make ends meet. So far, the mums taking part in this project have made 3,000 pads to be distributed to 600 girls.
“I think the program is good. I’ve benefitted from it, and benefiting others from it,” she said.
One of the girls who has received pads came to her to thank her and say that she was doing better at school because of the pads. Ruth said: “I felt good in my heart, because I never expected I’d be able to make such a difference.”