All around the world, women and girls face barriers to education. Even today, women and girls around the globe lack access to even basic sanitary products. Menstruation is often so stigmatised that girls and forced to miss school for the duration of their period.
Lilypads strives to eradicate period poverty and exploitation by providing affordable, reusable sanitary products to women and girls.
In rural Kenya today, 65% of women are unable to afford sanitary products and consequently girls as young as 12 are forced to make an impossible decision; have sex with older men in exchange for pads, or drop out of school. In an area where the HIV rate is at 25% such actions can have deadly consequences.
Lilypads developed an affordable sanitation solution that would prevent girls endangering themselves in order to access sanitary products. We developed a reusable pad design and education model to combat the stigma and worked with women within the community to implement the project.
This August I travelled to Homa Bay Kenya to implement the project. Having travelled to the area previously in the year, I was excited to catch up with our Lily Ladies and work with them to develop and expand the project. Upon arrival we met with 12 of our Lily Ladies. These women sell the pads within their community and teach menstrual health education within schools. We spent time receiving feedback from the work they have been carrying out since February and provided further enterprise training to ensure they were empowered with the confidence to sell the pads.
Through working with an NGO The Mango Tree, we were able to identify 20 new women in need of an income to sell the pads. We worked with them providing training and workshops in selling and menstrual health education.
A highlight of our trip was running a Lilypads education day. Girls supported by The Mango Tree attended the day where we ran role plays, workshops and interactive activities surrounding reproductive health, period stigma and female empowerment.
We also spent time carrying out market research into sanitary products and attitudes towards them within the community and running focus groups with girls around their experiences. It was inspiring staying with them, getting to know them and hearing their determination to finish school and reach their dreams. The trip inspired me even more to ensure that Lilypads is a success.
Lilypads provides a simple solution to a monumental issue and strives to end exploitation. Period.