Imagine getting your period and not having what you need to manage it: No pads, no tampons, maybe not even a bathroom, just rags cut from old clothes. That’s the monthly reality for 72% of women and girls in Ethiopia.
Nurse Meron Nigussie sees how lack of access to pads hurts girls in her community.
As head of the Arerti Health Post in rural Ethiopia, Meron Nigussie has seen this problem firsthand. “Most of the girls in this [area] come from peasant farmer parents, and they can’t afford to buy sanitary pads,” she says. “They use a makeshift pad every month which makes them ashamed. And they get infections from using unclean and worn-out garments.”
For girls who don't have access to pads, getting their period means missing school. "Usually menstruation is stigmatized in rural areas," Meron explains. "[Girls] feel too ashamed of their makeshift pad, as they are not confident that it will help them battling days of heavy bleeding." Fearful of leaks, some girls prefer to stay home rather than risk going to school. As a result, they fall behind on their education.
Fortunately, MSI Ethiopia has a plan to help women and girls manage their periods. They want to distribute pads in rural communities where they already provide contraception. Meron says that the program will make a real difference for girls: "There will be no absenteeism from school. [Girls] will feel confident and empowered to stand equally to boys."
Passing out pads offers an additional benefit, Meron says: "We can use this opportunity … to talk about sexual and reproductive health." Women and girls who come to us for pads will have the chance to learn about ways to take control of their health.
We need your help to launch this important new program. Just $2 buys a pack of 10 pads that will keep a girl in school during her period - and we've set a goal of buying 500 packs of pads to distribute in rural communities. Click here to make your donation.