Women Helping Women: Making Sanitary Pads Affordable | Seventh Generation
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Women Helping Women: Making Sanitary Pads Affordable

Author: sheila.B

Sustainable Health Enterprises LogoThroughout my life, I've been lucky enough to meet many inspiring and successful women on various journeys to help others lead a better life. What I've always found most compelling is the dedication and drive I see in them to take up causes on behalf of their fellow women all over the world.

Recently I met someone doing some absolutely amazing work. Elizabeth Scharpf is Chief Instigating Officer of Sustainable Health Enterprises (SHE). Elizabeth started SHE after a study she conducted found that girls and adult women are absent from school and work in developing countries up to 50 days a year simply because they lack access to affordable sanitary pads. That's 50 whole days of desperately-needed education and wages lost every year for a reason so unnecessary it boggles the mind.

Elizabeth decided to do something about it. But she's not donating sanitary supplies. Instead she's helping women in developing countries start their own businesses manufacturing sanitary pads from banana fibers (a renewable resource) and selling them at an affordable price to women in their communities. Her approach creates a sustainable local supply for these necessities while providing new and lasting economic opportunities for women trying to lift their families up out of poverty. SHE provides the training and seed money. The women who own these new micro-enterprises take it from there, and everybody wins: for every new SHE business established, 100 jobs are created and 100,000 women gain access to affordable sanitary pads.

But only if we help, because SHE depends on contributions from people who care. Without us, things won't change when they need to very much. So if you're looking for a different kind of holiday gift this season, make a donation to SHE in the name of someone you love. There's no greater way to give back to a world that has given us all so much this year and no more powerful way to spread the real meaning of the season.

Visit the SHE website and make a difference in the lives of women for whom a simple thing like a sanitary pad is sometimes all that stands between their families and a brighter future. Give the world something we can all celebrate.


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greenmamacita picture
Hi this is in response to kaupy's comment: SHE has actually been around since 2007 when the founder came across this issue while working in Mozambique and in 5 years, have developed a patent-pending pad that is ready to hit the market. I actually think it's amazing that SHE and Arunachalam Muruganantham came up with this idea around the same time in completely different geographies without knowing about each other - it certainly highlights the fact that access to pads is a global issue affecting girls and women around the world.
kaupy picture
is a great idea however, very similar to an idea created by a poor Indian man for his wife. He created this product after four or more years of very hard work: http://www.fastcoexist.com/1679008/an-indian-inventor-disrupts-the-period-industry?goback=.gde_4212078_member_85869578 and he has helped many women in Indian states other developing countries. I believe in helping organizations and ideas that already exist to improve the idea. I don't believe in creating "another" similar organization as your own idea diverting possible fund from the original idea. Why not combine forces in a world where too many nonprofits and aid organizations exist. Personally, that's my opinion although I commend what "SHE" has achieved. It is reaching women in needed areas, improving conditions---movement i truly believe --- "give a (wo)man a fish a day and you feed him/her for a day, teach (wo)man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. In this cases many communities and generations of women in the developing world"
brainleo picture
I think that the women who are under the poverty level can make efforts to bring them up. The problems of women, fundamental rights and other injustices towards women can also be tackled by making such informative posts, sites and raising the points for such things can help them alot. I was amazed when I came across to this post: http://www.haqeeqat.org/2010/05/07/perspectives-of-working-women-in-pakistan/ Have a look at this post. Thank You!
Dine picture
This can be said very remarkable post for the women of the world who are staying under the line of poverty level.The post can be categorized into two different entities one is women empowerment and the other is health.I would like to mention here about the life giving drinking water. Advance home appliance technology such as Ukf8001axx may not be affordable for all the families but there are so many procedure to make the water pure and deserve to drink. Such kinds of procedure should be taught them.
joy10 picture
Sister Hope is an up and coming non profit that is doing this same kind of work! They bring women together to send reusable pads to girls across the world, in an effort to keep girls in school. They also do scholarships for girls in Uganda. It is a really great program and one that I've personally volunteered with. Check it out! www.sishope.org
Astrotrain picture
I agree that there is a general apathy towards helping the poor in America. I call it a "poverty double standard." Many people have the attitude that since our poor are better off than the extreme poor in third world nations that it's somehow their fault that they got that way. They have a "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" attitude and don't want to help the poor right in their own backyard. The problem is that people who spout off about helping the poor in their own country (not saying this is you though) are also often the ones spouting off against the social assistance programs that can help said poor people. They're against welfare, Medicaid, food stamps, section 8 housing, etc. which are all vital programs to keep families afloat. I know, I've been there. Anyway let's put our money where our mouth is and really mobilize to help the poor in America. I agree that the poor here can be considered millionaires to the destitute in Haiti and other nations where people lack housing and food, and Americans as part of a global community must do their part to help them too, but let's also help our poor here.
calliechapman picture
I've heard that a dozen times: why are we helping other countries so much and not focusing on people that live in the U.S.? Truth is, yes, there is homelessness here, there is poverty, joblessness and hunger, but there will always be those things no matter where you are (even in Switzerland). But, the most important point here is there is EXTREME poverty in other places, and the U.S. (as a nation, or individuals from that nation) as a more affluent country (in general) should help out. Sometimes the attitude of focusing only on the internal, and me me me reminds me of the selfish teenager learning to live in a world of much more mature countries who have made those mistakes before...I'm speaking as a mother of 2 who happens to be an artist AND poor. I have to say my government HAS helped me quite a bit and I'm grateful for that.
vbravo123 picture
That's a nice idea, but why don't we do that right here in our own country where alot of woman cannot afford sanitary supplies. They choose between a little less food for sanitary supplies and with our economy we could use new jobs right here in america!! Also we'd reduce waste here!I'm not against helping other countries but we need to start taking care of our own first and then if we have money & resources left then help other countries!We have so much homelessness, joblessness & people going hungry right here & it's just not right!The money we send to other countries could help so many right here!! America needs to start thinking & start being more generous right here!
texcat picture
I have been using 'The Keeper' for the last 10 years and will NEVER use a disposable tampon or pad again! It is a small latex cup (latex free version - the Moon Cup is also available) that fits into the vagina and collects menstrual blood. You simply remove it, rinse and put back in. No more toxic shock syndrome worries (as santitary towels and tampons are not sterile - did you know that?) and even more impressive, no more filling the landfill with approximately 15 - 30 towels and tampons per month. The 'Keeper' lasts up to 10 years, and at an amazing $35, just think of what you could be spending your savings on! I was spending about $120 per year before! check it out.