Menstrual Hygiene Management in Uganda
Malia Nanyonga stencilling the outline of sanitary pads onto fabric before they are cut and sewn at the Afripads factory in the village of Kitengeesa in the Central Region of Uganda on 30 July 2014. Malia says she has been working at Afripads for a year, and that now that she has an income she is able to look after her children and her mother. She previously did odd jobs, such as working as a labourer. Started by volunteers in 2009, Afripads manufactures reusable fibre sanitary pads made locally by community residents. Beginning with a single employee, the company now employs roughly 100 women and produces approximately 700 kits (consisting of pads, holders and a bag) each week. At USh 12,000 to 15,0000 (£2.75 to £3.40) for a kit that lasts approximately one year, Afripads offer a significant saving over disposables which may cost in excess of USh 42,000 (£9.60) over the course of a year. And for the many girls and women who cannot afford disposables, they offer an affordable and more hygienic alternative to rags, cotton wool or toilet paper, all of which are frequently used. At schools where Afripads have been distributed, teachers report that absenteeism has dropped sharply as girls who previously did not have access to proper sanitary pads now no longer stay home when they have their periods.