It may be surprising to us in the "western world" that millions of poor girls and women in developing countries have little to no access to the products necessary to manage their menstrual cycle. For five or so days each month, their lives are disrupted because they have no way to catch the flow of blood. This can lead to girls dropping out of school, early pregnancy and marriage, and loss of income when women stay at home during their period. In an attempt to avoid soiling their clothing, they may use dirty cloths, leaves, or even animal dung to catch their flow. "Menstrual Hygiene Management" (MHM) is seen as vitally important to reaching and sustaining goals set by the United Nations in the areas of education and gender equality (see: http://www.sswm.info/content/menstrual-hygiene-management).
Oftentimes, the lack of menstrual hygiene products is coupled with a lack of education around basic women's health questions like, why do we menstruate? what does menstruation have to do with reproduction? how can I avoid pregnancy? how can I protect myself from getting a sexually transmitted infection? Menstruation, sexuality and reproduction are often taboo subjects and simply not discussed at all.
Disposable pads are a convenient way to catch the monthly blood flow, but in most poor regions (like where we work in Ghana), they're too costly and not easy to get, given that the nearest market is miles away and there is no transportation. Washable/re-usable pads are a good option - and here's where Healthy Villages comes in.
We are currently exploring options to bring this important project to Ghana!