Local business champions innovative boost to girls’ education in developing countries
Lunapads and Mariposa Foundation distribute cloth menstrual pads and underwear to women and girls in the Dominican Republic
April 21, 2011, Puerto Cabarete, Dominican Republic – Across the developing world, millions of girls miss up to 20% of their education simply because they lack monthly feminine hygiene supplies. However, thanks to Lunapads International, a Vancouver-based company that specializes in eco-friendly feminine hygiene products, that number is decreasing.
Lunapads has partnered with Mariposa DR Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to empowering girls in the Dominican Republic, to donate specially-made Daily Hygiene Kits of underwear and cloth liners to women and girls. Last week, Patricia Suriel of the Mariposa Foundation organized a meeting with women and girls in Puerto Cabarete to hand out these kits.
In a community where menstruation is often a taboo subject, 55 women and girls gathered together to talk and learn about reusable cloth pads. Suriel led a presentation to explain how the specially designed panties can be used every day, or during menstruation with the addition of absorbent cotton fleece cloths. She explained how to use the kit’s mesh washing bag and waterproof storage pouch. She then handed out the kits everyone.
“I was originally expecting the girls to be more nervous or embarrassed, but they opened up and became involved, asking questions, chatting with others, and really taking their time with their new pads and underwear,” notes Suriel.
“Seeing the two generations of Latina women together speaking openly about something that otherwise can be considered taboo was a testament to what we are doing here, instilling pride in being a woman,” says Julia Swijters of the Mariposa Foundation.
Madeleine Shaw, Lunapads co-founder and Richmond resident, had a similar experience when she sewed the first Lunapad in 1993 and switched from disposable tampons to reusable pads.
“This is why I started Lunapads: to help women have healthier and more positive experiences of their menstrual cycles, and by extension, their bodies overall,” Shaw explains. “By providing women with a healthier, more eco-friendly alternative to disposable pads and tampons, we’re inviting women to create more positive and informed relationship with themselves as well as the planet.”
With these new kits and sense of pride, these girls can stay in school during their periods. “Educated girls have the chance to grow up to become leaders in their communities, which in turn improves the future for entire countries,” explains Suzanne Siemens, Lunapads co-founder.
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