More than 80 million girls in developing countries face a huge monthly challenge due to their menstrual periods. This is as a result of poverty which does not allow them to purchase sanitary towels. They would rather spend the little they have on other necessities such as food and opt for other things such as rags and mattress to deal with their menstruation. This condition has hindered most of them from going to school during menstruation and this has led to poor academic performance. It is very unfortunate that some have to drop out of school (Kiunguyu,2019). In the northern parts of Kenya, girls sit in holes dug in the ground until their monthly cycle is over. During this time, they are secluded since they are considered unclean.
Uganda is not an exception, this is why Ugandan Mary Consolata Namagambe, a law student in Denmark and human rights activist, had to go back to her country of origin. She felt something had to be done about this situation. She extended her work to neighboring countries, Kenya and Tanzania. Namagambe mentioned that growing up, she had never lacked sanitary towels or money to buy them, therefore it saddened her seeing other girls from her country suffering because they cannot afford to purchase them. Thus, she did research and came up with reusable pads which she called She for She. According to the organization’s website, these pads are combined with health education through an interactive, comic-based booklet which is created to allow girls to make informed choices and somewhat boost their output and well-being.
Economically, this company is of great benefit to vulnerable women in Uganda. This is because the She for She pads are locally made by these women in Mateete Village in Uganda’s capital city, Kampala (Which is where Namagambe was born). They are educated on the crucial skills required to make the pads, in this way they earn and are therefore able to provide for their families. These pads, which are not only affordable, but also environmentally friendly, empower girls by allowing them to stay in school more and become more comfortable.
She for She also teaches girls about menstruation and self-esteem through workshops, educational activities and capacity-building programs. It discusses social and economic stigmatization, taboos and discrimination associated with menstruation. Namagambe insists that menstruation is something natural that should not keep any girl away from school.
Namagambe was selected to be part of the United Nations Human Rights Fellowship Program for people of African origin. Here is what she had to say to the Office of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights,
“It was a sensitive project for me because I could see myself in it. I could see being young and being bullied. It was really important for me to create a space where we could have a voice, have a conversation and also teach our fellow Danes what this word (a word in Danish most commonly translated to a negro, but in its worst usage is equivalent to ‘n****r’) does to us.”