Breaking Taboos, One Menstrual Pad at a Time, PERIOD
SHE’s first initiative, SHE28, addresses a global problem: girls’ and women’s lack of access to affordable menstrual pads, which leads to significant costs in education, productivity, health, and dignity.
As instigators, SHE believes in sparking conversations at the global & local levels about the lack of affordable menstrual products. When SHE spoke to 500 girls & women in Rwanda, we learned that part of the reason this problem exists is because of the taboos. When the SHE28 campaign launched, its aim was to immediately tackle the “unmentionable” taboos about menstruation to gain awareness of this silent, but global problem.
The SHE28 campaign video also addresses SHE’s disruptive market-based approach to tackling this taboo vs. reliance on international aid & donations. Donations don’t work in the long-term. Market-based approaches, however, do work, so why can’t we apply to them to global health & economic problems too?
SHE28 helps individuals to jumpstart their own businesses to manufacture & distribute locally produced, low-cost, eco-friendly menstrual pads. With every woman-led business that SHE invests, about 100,000 women gain access to affordable menstrual pads. These affordable menstrual pads were designed by SHE & its technical partners at MIT, NCSU, & Kigali Institute of Technology, to offer an sustainable, low-cost, & eco-friendly option for girls & women.
The SHE LaunchPad significantly reduces the negative environmental impact of typical pads by using agro-waste (i.e. banana fibers) as the absorbent core of the pad. Overall, the SHE28 campaign pairs its product innovation with a sustainable & scalable business model operated & owned by women in the community. SHE’s sanitary pad franchising is also coupled with health & hygiene education & advocacy, to ensure long-term sustainability.
In addition to the SHE28 video & business model, the SHE28 campaign includes a grass-roots advocacy campaign, In 2010, SHE, along with 10 other leading organizations, kicked off its advocacy campaign, “Breaking the Silence on Menstruation,” by marching across the capital & engaging in a public discussion with girls, women & men about how to break down these barriers to girls’ education. As a result, the Rwandan government placed a new line item in the national budget for a $35,000 procurement of menstrual pads for the poorest girls in Rwanda.
Finally, the SHE28 campaign has been successful in making sure women & girls are no longer left behind because of the taboos associated with menstruation. President Clinton recognized SHE28 at the 2009 Global Clinton Initiative. Nicholas Kristof highlighted SHE multiple times in the New York Times, including a feature in his NYT Magazine article, “The D.I.Y. Foreign-Aid Revolution” which highlighted SHE’s entrepreneurial approach to sustainable socio-economic change with communities.
The campaign video has been shared at the Skoll World Forum, The Feast, & across various social media platforms & blogs. Most importantly, we are grateful & humbled whenever we receive the following email message: ‘Loved your video. What an incredible & innovative idea. How can I help?’
More About This Charity
Small Charity of the Year
Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE)
SHE is a social enterprise that invests in overlooked people and ideas to drive social and economic change. We educate and train local entrepreneurs, optimize and distribute product, and provide access to start-up capital. Our first campaign, SHE28, helps individuals to jumpstart their own businesses to manufacture and distribute locally produced, low-cost, eco-friendly menstrual pads.
- This Achievement raised $1,000,000
- This charity raised $400,000 in the past year
- This Achievement helped 5,500 people
- Launched 50 enterprises offering affordable pads to 5K girls & women; secured 35K from Rwandan govt to procure pads for girls