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Menstrual Hygiene Education with UhuruPads

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Publisher : Laura Chauvin

Course Language : English

This course is intended to facilitate basic understanding of menstruation - and how and what to share with young women who are perhaps just learning about their menstrual cycles. Though the course was for volunteers who choose to join with UhuruPads in providing menstrual hygiene education in Tanzania, the information contained within will be beneficial

UhuruPads is a social enterprise that engages women in small groups to manufacture and distribute high-quality, affordable, and eco-friendly sanitary pads. Many girls miss school due to challenges related to menstruation. The need for a sustainable, affordable pad (our technology and pad were developed in India by Aakar Innovations) forms the backbone of our effort. Our pads are made using 100% biodegradable components and they provide employment for the women who make them. The pads are provided to girls attending school along with a strong educational program; these efforts are possible because of the generous support of many people and organizations.  

UhuruPads was founded not long after  NBA basketball star Dwight Howard learned of the challenges facing young women trying to continue their education in Tanzania. Dwight's goal - first and foremost- was for girls to be safe. He initially invested in the building of school dormitories.

Around the same time, another American, Laura Chauvin, was working in East Africa on clean water and nutrition projects. Along the way she met a group of women making beautiful beaded sandals. Inspired by the women, she founded Her Best Foot Forward Sandals. Proceeds from sandal sales made by the women – and purchased at a fair price – are provided to support NGO’s doing great things for girls and women in Tanzania. As Laura got to know the incredible women making the sandals better, she admired their determination and skill, their goals for their families, and their determination to succeed.

wight and Laura began working together and, on his behalf, she went to visit one of the girls’ school he had been supporting. There she learned that many of the girls missed school due to challenges related to menstruation.  She asked the group of women Artisans working on the sandal project if they would help by creating washable sanitary pads for the girls.

The girls’ excitement to have the pads, encouraged Dwight and Laura to explore the possibility of another solution to help even more girls. A new technology from India which allowed 100% compostable sanitary pads to be made from agricultural products was exciting.  These pads would provide employment for the women who made them and could also be provided to girls through support from donors and others.  Since the pads are 100% compostable, using the pads does not harm to the environment.  Other great features of the pads are their safety, comfort, absorbency, and affordability. 

Since the ultimate goal is to create independence – for the girls, first and foremost, as well as the women who use, make, and distribute them – the word UHURU (Swahili for "freedom") was chosen for the name of the product!