Zimbabwe women sew sanitary pads to help keep girls in school
A community group in rural Zimbabwe is making reusable sanitary towels so that girls don't have to miss school when they have their period.
The Chiedza Community Welfare Trust, in Zimbabwe's Mutasa District, started sewing cloth sanitary pads when founder Gladys Mukaratirwa realized that local girls were missing school every month because they couldn't afford disposable hygiene products.
"If you calculate two to five days per month it's about 45 days per year of school time which is wasted, so we realized that there was a need for them to have a sustainable source of sanitary pads," Mukaratirwa said.
The pads are carefully designed and produced using cloth and flannel fabric to keep them lightweight and easy to wash and dry.
"It’s used, washed and dried in the sun. The sun is strong enough to sanitize this pad. Any harmful microorganisms can be destroyed by the sun and the pad is used again,” Mukaratirwa explained.
As a former teacher, the 60-year-old has dedicated her life to empowering and teaching young women in her village skills that can ensure that they earn an income to feed their families.
The group, run by female volunteers, sells at a low price to locals and to charities across Zimbabwe for distribution to schoolgirls and vulnerable young women.
“This pad is very cheap, and you can use for a year and six months so for just $4 for a pack of five it means for a year you don’t have to worry about buying pads,” a university student and customer, Lee Chisuko said.
The factory makes about 600 pads per day.