“We are going Pink!” laughs Zinhle Msimang, one of the dozen women who are involved in the first phase of an exciting social enterprise project, facilitated by the Midlands Meander Education Project (MMEP) and sponsored by Boeing.
Jessica Gird, MMEP coordinator, provides some background “Having first-hand experience through our work in schools of the challenges young women face during their monthly menstruation, we decided to focus our efforts on making this part of their lives easier.
Through research and discussion, we realised that menstruation is steeped in silence, myth and misunderstanding. We observed that this is a national concern that requires open discourse.”
45 billion menstrual products are used and disposed of each year.
The cost for women who purchase them is huge, and the cost to the environment immeasurable. Pink produces and supplies a range of menstrual products (washable, biodegradable and re-useable) that are affordable and environmentally conscious, enabling easier access and creating meaningful part-time employment. In the process changing behaviour, encouraging independence and building confidence.
A sewing group, based in Howick, forms the core of the co-operative. These women make pretty fabric pads that are easy to wash, dry and reuse and are now able to better support their families while working independently from home. Sales agents (also part of the co-op) sell the fabric pads as well as South African made biodegradable pads and menstrual cups to cater for a diverse range of preferences and budgets.
Zandile Sikhakane from Impendle has been astonished at how easy it is to use the menstrual cup, reporting less pain than she usually experiences during her period. Wilderness guide Lihle Mbokasi, finds the more familiar biodegradable pads most comfortable, while the women in Wendy Mkwanase’s family are impressed by how much money the washable pads will save.
Entrepreneur and enabler Simphiwe Mntambo, who will lead the project into the future across South Africa, is equally excited. “Our vision is to create an empowered network of social enterprises where women can finally profit from creating and providing products, services and information that address their menstrual, reproductive and sexual health needs as appropriate at different stages of their lifetime."
We all know our rivers and oceans are in trouble. Polluted by plastic waste and other toxic effluent. A major cause of blockages in sewerage systems is discarded pads and tampons. Pink washable, reusable and biodegradable menstrual products offer you an effective way to contribute to the wellbeing of our planet – every month.
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