How do we keep girls in school? One head-smackingly simple solution.
We all know getting our periods doesn't as closely resemble frolicking through fields of flowers as tampon and pad commercials would like us to think. But each month, we menstruating lady folk are able to grab a pad or tampon without too much thought. But for women and girls in the developing world, "that time of the month" isn't just a struggle because of cramps or moodiness. Without access to proper pads, women and girls are forced to put their lives on hold every month. That means up to 50 missed days of school and/or work each year -- that adds up to 5 years over one woman's life! When women can't work and girls remain uneducated, communities suffer. Globally, girls are more likely to be kept out of school than boys for a myriad of reasons, including lacking access to pads. Girls who attend school are more likely to get good jobs or start their own businesses, contributing to the local economy. They're also much less likely to become involved in sex work or fall victim to human trafficking. Women with good jobs are better able to care for their families and send their own children to school.
When we think about how to get more girls into school or empowering women economically, the problem can seem overwhelming. Getting girls and women pads is a slice of the problem that we can help solve. Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE) is making loans to women in Africa to start businesses to produce affordable pads. Not only will women and girls have greater access to pads, these businesses will employ 1,200 women. And economically empowered women means healthier, stable families and wealthier communities.