In February and March 2018, Healthy Villages, Inc. distributed washable/reusable menstrual pads and accessories to adolescent girls at seven schools in the Lower Volta Region of Ghana as part of our women’s health medical mission. A year later, our board member and head nurse Philimon Ametorwodufia and co-director Godfried Agbezudor traveled back to all seven schools to gather data on the menstrual hygiene products we gave out. We wanted to find out if the girls were using the cloth pads, and how they liked them, to help us decide how to move forward with the project.
Teachers at the schools randomly chose girls who received the pads to participate in the survey. Approximately 20% of the girls who received kits (comprised of 10 cloth tri-fold pads, 2 moisture-proof panty liners, a washcloth, soap or liquid cleanser, and a bottle of ibuprofen or Tylenol) participated – 104 girls and 5 teachers who also received kits.
Overwhelmingly, the recipients of the kits use/used them and like them. Of the 109 surveyed, 100 respondents use or used the cloth pads. Of the 9 who don’t, one girl gave it to her sister, one wasn’t menstruating yet, and the others said it was either uncomfortable, leaked, or was hard to wash.
After a year of use, 81 respondents said their pads and shields are still in good repair and useable – 19 said their pads and/or shields lasted between 3 months and 11 months. We wished we had asked more about what became damaged or made them unusable. We wondered if we need to do more education when giving out the pads to make sure they understand how to wash them properly – for instance, not to iron the shields which would melt the waterproof lining and the plastic snaps.
61 said that the kits of 2 shields and 10 pads was adequate for the duration of their menstrual period; 38 suggested that they need more of both shields and pads. Interestingly, all the respondents said they would buy washable menstrual hygiene products at the local market, and most said they would pay between the equivalent of about 20 cents and $1.20 for one shield or one pad. 11 people said they would pay up to $2 per item, or more. This is important information as we consider having the pads and shields sewn in Ghana and marketed for sale to local women and girls – thus providing women with a sustainable income as well as a ready supply of reusable menstrual hygiene. As we’ve considered this option in the past, the logistics of getting the fabrics we need has always been the challenge. How nice it would be, though, if girls and women could add to their kits by buying what they need locally. All the respondents said they would be willing to teach other girls and women how to use the washable pads, and they all said they would like us to come back to their area to distribute more of this product
We got some really nice comments from the girls and their teachers about how useful the kits were to them such as:
“It saves money and there’s no need to buy pads again.”
“I hardly get money to buy disposable pads.”
“it’s comfortable and economical.”
“I itch when I use the disposable pad but this one was good because I don’t itch when I used it.”
“It’s comfortable and doesn’t leak onto clothing and helps protect my pants from being stained with blood.”
Access to menstrual hygiene helps girls stay in school, delay pregnancy and marriage, and become more successful in life!
Would you like to help us supply girls and women with reusable menstrual hygiene products?
A donation of $10 allows us to provide one kit to a woman or girl who would have little to no access to menstrual hygiene!
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