I work with teenage girls and children focusing on education and empowerment. One of our project provides free sanitary pads for girls in poor communities and the Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps in Abuja. A few people have reached out to me about reusable cloth pad asking about sustainability. While we will like to give the girls at the IDP camp reusable cloth pads, knowing it will keep thousands of disposable feminine hygiene products out of landfills and save money for the girls by not having to buy pads each and every month. We’re also aware of the challenges of reusable sanitary pads in the camps. Truth is, majority of the girls already use reusable cloth as pads and others use tissue paper, however, we spoke to a few of them and many shared the following concern.
1. The easiest way to clean the pads is to just toss them into the washing machine but they have none and even though air drying is also great, there’s nowhere private to dry the pads in the camp.
2. Some said the men in their families didn’t know what the piece of cloth was for and they unknowingly used it to wipe their shoes and some, the floor.
3. For some, the reusable cloth hurt their thigh really badly and makes walking unbearable when they wear it. (This can give blisters on their thigh too). Yes, most cloth pads are estimated to last up to five years if they’re properly cared for. But the reality of the girls in the camp is completely different. They cannot properly care for the sanitary pads in their current situation. Some currently dry their piece of cloth in their rooms and because it’s not properly dried, sometimes it smells.
On June 5th, 2019. We educated and provided free sanitary pads enough for 3 months to 50 girls at the new kuchigoro IDP Camp in Abuja. Our team will be at the Karon Majigi and Gongola IDP Camp to educate 50 girls and provide free sanitary pads enough for three months and underwear to them.
Until we find a solution to the challenge of drying the pads, we’ll really love to provide disposable sanitary pads.