Happy International Women’s Day everyone! Today we celebrate the contributions made by women all over the world – but more than that, Women’s Day invites us to push for change and take action to help women and girls realize their full potential.
In many parts of the developing world, one of the biggest things holding women and girls back is their period. Poor sanitation and economics mean that women cannot go about their monthly menses in a hygienic or dignified way. Period protection is often limited, expensive and in some cases, simply unavailable which mean many young girls miss out on school each month. Combining these factors, for many women Auntie Flo’s monthly visit is not simply an annoyance, but something incredibly debilitating and disempowering.
Actions speak louder than words, and this Women’s Day we are looking back at the action we have taken in the past year to improve menstrual hygiene and empower women around the world…
In October 2016 INTIMINA collaborated with South African YouTuber Theodora Lee in our biggest project to date, The Lily Cup Project. Growing up in South Africa, Theo was often struck by the disparity between privileged and underprivileged communities. She set about investigating how young women and girls in underprivileged areas dealt with their periods, and found that many were missing out on school each month because they couldn’t afford pads or tampons – almost 2 million girls in fact.
Wanting to make as big an impact as possible, Theo reached out to us and we were more than happy to help, donating 2000 Lily Cup Compacts towards her project. She then started an IndieGoGo campaign to raise awareness and funds for the cup’s distribution. Once we saw the massive outpouring of support the campaign was receiving, we doubled our donation to 4000 cups. In the end, Theo raised a whopping $3253 which will go towards distributing the cups to women and girls all around South Africa this March.
Theo will be supported by the non-profit organisations Bunang Baswa and Dream Factory, who will help her get the cups to the girls who need them most, as well as providing them with workshops in menstrual hygiene and how to use a menstrual cup! With 4000 girls to receive menstrual cups that will last them an upwards of 10 years, The Lily Cup Project is likely to change many girls lives for years to come.
Togo & The Gambia
In the summers of 2015 and 2016, INTIMINA teamed up with Spanish humanitarian association Jatakendeya, to set up menstrual education projects in The Gambia and Togo. In these countries, poor sanitation and economics mean women use rags, newspapers and any other materials to hand as period protection. Unhygienic and insufficient, women are exposed to bacteria, infections as well as being prone to leaks and unpleasant odors. Getting one’s period is an object of extreme anxiety in these communities – but that’s where we came in!
Armed with hundreds of Lily Cups, Spanish gynecologist Gema García Gálvez and her group of volunteers visited Togo and The Gambia over two consecutive summers. They provided women with comprehensive workshops on the reproductive system, menstrual cycle and how to use a menstrual cup, with participants receiving a Lily Cup at the end of each session. Lily Cups proved an excellent solution to the issues faced by women in these parts of Africa. Reusable and lasting for YEARS they put an end to the use of unsafe materials and provided leak-free and odor-free protection, so finally the women and girls could forget about their period!
In September 2016, traveler Hannah Schoenig got in contact with us prior to a trip to Nicaragua. As the second most impoverished country in Latin America, Nicaraguan women face very similar difficulties as those in Togo and The Gambia – poor sanitation, insufficient period protection and a culture that disapproves of frank speech about menstruation. A Lily Cup Compact user herself, Hannah was excited to introduce menstrual cups to the women on her travels, and to share with them the freedom of safe, reusable period protection. Hannah gave short lessons on how to use the cup with several groups of women and girls and reported that despite being a little shy initially, were thrilled to receive their new cups!
This International Women’s Day, we want to pledge our commitment to improving menstrual hygiene around the world – so that never again women and girls have to miss out, miss school or miss opportunities because of their period.