Revolutionizing Menstrual Health: Working with The Pad Project


Gohar Chichian
Manager, Digital Marketing & Content
May 22, 2020
Photo credit: @bykellymalka

A period should end a sentence, not a girl’s education.

The Pad Project

That’s why the PoP team is excited to partner with The Pad Project to bring menstrual hygiene management resources and education to students around the world. 

One of the core tenets of PoP’s curriculum is our Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program, which is essential to ensuring students’ health and safety in the classroom. PoP provides crucial infrastructure including toilets and handwashing stations. This is supplemented with educational WASH workshops to teachers, providing them with techniques for teaching students healthy practices such as washing hands, brushing teeth and drinking clean water. But there is still a long road ahead.

Photo description: A student in Guatemala washes their hands at a PoP built handwashing station at school.
Photo Credit: Amanda Brown

Lack of access to menstrual health products and WASH infrastructure can result in significant embarrassment and discomfort that makes it harder for girls to concentrate and learn at school. 

In order to combat gender inequality and provide access to health resources, PoP Guatemala currently provides disposable sanitary pads to schools in the first year of programming. Schools are then expected to plan, with their communities, the replacement of materials each year in order to encourage WASH program sustainability. When students leave school at the end of the day, they need to purchase disposable pads themselves. Purchasing sanitary pads remains a barrier to menstrual hygiene management because these materials are priced beyond their means and students may feel embarrassed to seek them out.  However, there are still schools and communities that do not have access to any form of sanitary pads. 

As a result, unhygienic practices and menstrual stigma can still prevail, preventing students from accessing and using sanitary pads. 

“Period. End of Sentence.” — (film) Netflix

PoP sees reusable cloth sanitary pads as a sustainable solution that empowers students in the management of their period and the ownership of their bodies. Reusable sanitary pads will provide students in the Zona Reina region of Guatemala with a hygienic and environmentally safe option while away from school. It is also affordable and protects their privacy inside and outside of the classroom. 

Currently, the communities in Zona Reina do not have access to any disposable sanitary pads and are in need of a more sustainable solution. That’s where The Pad Project comes in. We will work collectively to expand PoP’s WASH program and remove barriers to gender equality in education. 

The Pad Project is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to end period stigma and to empower women worldwide. In order to raise awareness about this critical human rights issue, The Pad Project sent a pad manufacturing machine, along with a year’s worth of raw materials, to a village in rural India and documented the process on film. That film, Period. End of Sentence., won the 2019 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short and sparked a global conversation about menstrual equity. The documentary depicts how the installation of a pad machine provides access to affordable and hygienic menstrual products and fosters a micro-economy for the women who operate it. Following the film’s Netflix release and Oscar win, The Pad Project partners with communities seeking a pad machine and other Menstrual Health Management programs including educational workshops and reusable cloth pad-making programs. 

The Pad Project has partnered with PoP to support reusable sanitary pads in two PoP schools in Zona Reina. The project will teach PoP staff and local teachers how to make reusable pads with cloth and sewing kits. Teachers will work with their students, boys and girls, to create reusable pads. Students will be able to create their own pads, which will help them manage their period while at home and in the classroom.

The project will serve approximately 600 students in two schools and provide training to both students and teachers on how to use the reusable pads. Our collective goal is that this reusable cloth pad-making program will expand to different schools in the community and create sustainable social change by increasing access to menstrual hygiene products. 

Reusable sanitary pads will help girls be more confident in furthering their education and inspire youth activism and engagement in menstrual equity initiatives. With support from the Pad Project, PoP will continue to educate students on menstruation and safely managing their periods. Girls in Guatemala will enjoy access to menstrual hygiene products inside and outside of the classroom.

Photo credit: Sierra Leone Rising

To learn more about The Pad Project, visit https://thepadproject.org/.

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