When it’s that time of the month, I don’t have to worry about having proper hygienic products to manage my period.
Unfortunately, this is not the reality of every woman.
In Namibia, some women without access to proper feminine products will use mattress filling, newspapers, and even leaves during menstruation. Although I haven’t encountered any women that have used any of these methods, it happens. Culture and economic constraints lead to poor menstrual hygiene management. But, most importantly, some young women miss school because they don’t have access to pads during their periods.
SisterPADS is an NGO based in Windhoek. They provide cost-effective, eco-friendly, washable and re-usable sanitary pads which aim to improve girls’ menstrual health hygiene and welfare.
In early March, my counterparts, Ileni and Patrina, a fellow volunteer, Rachael, and I held a girls empowerment workshop in my community.
60 SisterPAD kits were donated to girls in my community who have difficulty acquiring pads due to financial hardships. We wanted to conduct a workshop not only focusing on menstruation, but to educate girls about sexual health, HIV/AIDS, hygiene and sanitation, reproductive health, and how to care for the reusable pads they received at the end of the workshop.
I am a confident young woman.
I am in control of my own body.
I am in control of my own health.
I am in control of my sexual health.
I am educated about my sexual health.
I make my own decisions about my own health.
I make my own decisions about sex.
I really enjoyed seeing my counterparts shine during this workshop. They covered the topics of sexual reproductive health with the utmost sensitivity, empathy, and care.
To conclude the workshop, Rachael guided the participants through a self-esteem activity. The each wrote down what makes each of them unique and how their qualities contribute positively to the world around them.
Body changes are normal. A young woman should not be afraid of these changes. With SisterPADS, these girls will be able to hygienically and safely manage their periods, but they will also miss fewer days of school.