Girls know that education is their only path to self-sufficiency. It is their only chance to shape their own fate rather than having the limits of their lives dictated to them by others.
—Let Girls Learn founder Michelle Obama
Since 2008, Lunapads and AFRIpads have enjoyed a warm and productive relationship and are thrilled to announce their newest collaboration, a graphic-novel style booklet, entitled Girl Talk! Tips for Happier and Healthier Periods.
Girl Talk! tells the story of Ugandan adolescent tween Sandra as she reaches menarche (first menstrual period). Sandra starts her period, and alerts her Mom, who explains the menstrual cycle, as well as how to use and clean Sandra’s new AFRIpads. The booklet will be a valuable resource for girls throughout Sub-Saharan Africa to learn about what is happening to their changing bodies in an engaging and accessible manner.
The beautifully-illustrated booklet was a joint project by the Canadian and Ugandan companies, with a great deal of participation and input in particular from AFRIpads employees, local Ugandan girls and other community members. The booklet was designed by Anne Dunnett and the illustrations were made by Andrea Sutinen, herself an 18 year-old girl.
Girl Talk’s characters and their surroundings are aspirational yet accessible, with Sandra and her friends being modern “city girls” who head off to school at the end of the story, emphasizing the positive impact on education that access to menstrual products can have. Sandra’s Dad also makes an appearance, letting his daughter know that he is proud and supportive of her.
The booklet is the next iteration of Lunapads and AFRIpads longstanding One4Her program. One4Her was created following a trip to Uganda in 2012 by Madeleine and Suzanne as a pad-for-pad relationship, whereby for every eligible Lunapads product sold, the company allocated a portion of the proceeds to fund the production of an AFRIpads pad.
The funded pads are bundled into kits and distributed to high-need girls throughout East Africa. In 2016, following the creation of the Girl Talk booklet, the two companies decided to adjust program to go from a simple pad-for-pad model to a broader funding model that supports the distribution of pads and education booklets. The result is a broader range of projects that support health as well as education.
AFRIpads kits are distributed at schools by an AFRIpads-trained employee of one of the company’s numerous NGO partners, who explains their use and care. Recognizing the opportunity to further support the successful adoption of long-term use of the products, as well as to offer essential health and reproductive information, Lunapads and AFRIpads decided to create the booklet. The booklets will be available in Kiswahili, Kinyarwanda, French, Somali and Arabic in addition to English by the end of 2016.
According to AFRIpads co-founder Sonia Grinvalds, “In many developing countries menstruation is still a topic surrounded by myths and taboos, and many girls lack proper knowledge of the changes their bodies experience during puberty. Often girls don’t even know what is happening to them when they get their period for the first time, and they lack knowledge on how to manage their period hygienically.”
We are thrilled with this new evolution and impact. As social entrepreneurs, we are always trying to improve and expand our impact: we are thrilled to be supporting AFRIpads, menstrual health and education in this unique new way.