One question I even asked myself when we started working on this project was: Why menstrual hygiene products? Aren't there more important things to support these people with, like food?
You are right, food is the most fundamental thing we can provide. But we decided to support the women for a number of reasons.
According to a UNICEF study in two countries in west africa in 2013 - Burkina Faso and Niger - about menstrual hygiene at school, school girls miss up to 20% of valuable school time because they are menstruating and have no suitable products and/or restrooms to deal with their periods. For fear of stains and being mocked for them, they stay at home, missing on education. "The Cup" working in Kenia tells about the same problems, and they provide menstrual cups for school girls to help them overcome this problem - with good results. I have even been told that the female friends and relatives of the girls who got a cup are jealous and want their own. "The Cup" also tells about girls who have to prostitute themselves to be able to buy pads - a thought that makes me sad and angry at the same time...
I think it is crucial to support especially women, as they are still fighting oppression throughout the world, while at the same time it is generally agreed on that it is mostly women who hold a family together. They do the majority if not all of the housework, they nurse and feed their children, they provide food and clothing. I believe if we support and strengthen the women we help the whole families. A woman who does not have to stay home several days each month because she is on her period, can much better support her family. If she doesn't have to spend money each month on pads and such, she can rather use this money to buy food or other necessary things. At the same time she can gain autonomy over her own body again, learning about her bodily functions and understanding herself better, which is, in my opinion, a fundamental thing to empower women everywhere. We are often silenced, our bodies are burdened with taboos that prevent us from understanding them in order to keep us quiet. But it is important to know about your bodies and what they do, to understand menstruation, to learn what is normal and what could be a sign of an illness or infection, so we can stay healthy.
Is is often said, strengthening women and girls is the best investment you can make.
Menstruation is a perfectly natural thing, and no woman should have to feel ashamed for it. Many young girls, I often read, don't even know what's happening to them when they get their first menstruation. It must be extremely scary if you suddenly start bleeding "down there" without understanding why! When I talked to Nwadi from "Luv Ur Body" menstrual cups she told me that even many grown women she talked to have no understanding of their own anatomy. I think, keeping women and girls intentionally uninformed about their own bodies is a way to keep them oppressed.
We wish to offer a way out, to assist in making life for women and girls easier, to show them their strength. I'm not a saviour, and women don't need to be "saved". But we saw and have been told about a need and see a possibility to help out, and that's why we started to work on this campaign, simple as that. Even if we can just make a difference for a handful of women we already achieved so much. Will you join us?
Just yesterday I came by chance upon this wonderful quote that fits perfectly :)