Women entrepreneurs making reusable sanitary pads

Hot in the Valley this month: purses, handbags and reusable sanitary pads…

Old rags, leaves and used newspaper – just some of the crude substitutes women and girls in rural Uganda resort to in lieu of any better options when their menstruation cycle comes round once a month.

At best, excruciatingly uncomfortable, and at worst, posing a serious health risk from infection, poor menstrual hygiene is the lesser known issue holding back many women in impoverished communities from reaching their potential.

Presenting a barrier to females fully engaging in activities throughout their formative and adult years – from attending school, to gaining further training, as well as participating in wider economic and social activities in the community – a lack of access to the products most women in the developed world deem essential in their everyday lives, is having a detrimental impact on many women in rural Uganda.

Menstrual Health - The Facts

Menstrual Health – The Facts. Source: Menstrual Hygiene Day

Thankfully, in Jinja, a small city on the way from Kampala to Mbale near our own Bulambuli Valley, Communities for Development discovered two extraordinary women with an innovative solution to this nagging problem: they were hand-sewing and selling reusable sanitary pads, alongside handbags and purses, to their fellow females in the community, providing a viable alternative to the prohibitively expensive commercially-branded products.

Products handmade from scant resources including used magazines

Innovation and Ingenuity: sanitary products handmade from scant resources 

“It was so inspiring to meet these amazing women making and selling sanitary pads,” said Iñigo, Co-Founder of Communities for Development. “Living in scant circumstances, with next to no resources, they had the ingenuity to create these products from scratch and the entrepreneurial instinct to start small businesses with a positive impact on the community.”

The great news is that awareness about women and girls’ right to manage their monthly periods safely, privately and with dignity is growing and rising on the global development agenda – there is even a dedicated “Menstrual Hygiene Day” – and there are more and more projects underway in Uganda to provide solutions.

Increased awareness: Menstrual Health Day Infographic

Increased awareness: Menstrual Hygiene Day Infographic #menstruationmatters

However, these projects have not quite reached some of the more remote communities such as Bulambuli, and a lack of access to menstrual health advice and sanitary products persists.

With your help, we can help these accomplished women pass on their skills and know-how to the women of Bulambuli who are raring to kick-start the production of these simple products in their own Valley and liberate the girls and women in their community from the burden of managing their menstruation cycle.

We believe that developing the production of reusable sanitary pads in the Bulambuli community would have the two-fold impact of providing skills, training and potential further income to those who become tailors to make the pads, as well as a positive social impact on the lives of girls and women in the surrounding communities who currently have no access affordable sanitary hygiene products.

Providing access to these products, alongside efforts to ‘demystify’ menstruation through training and sessions with the local drama group on the menstrual topic, will mean girls can get to school, women can focus energy on developing skills and businesses, and females in general can get on with their lives in cleanliness and comfort.

“What to us is an everyday item and a basic necessity, for this community can be life-changing, groundbreaking product – if they can have access to it” – Pilar Tejon, Co-Founder, Communities for Development

Our vision is improve the wellbeing of women and girls so that they can be in charge of their own destiny, make decisions with confidence and be invaluable agents for change in the wider community.

So pledge today and empower our women entrepreneurs to become tailors, makers and creators of life-changing products!



By Sarah Bradbury, C4D Campaigns. Just 5 more days to #BackOurValley – get yourself on Indiegogo and take advantage of a our campaign closing perk sale!

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