The blog below was written by period poverty campaigner, Michelle Nyengeterai Rigava.
We live in a world where women have to pay a price for what mother nature has declared for us. A world where some girls in countries like Zimbabwe miss days of school every month because they have limited access to sanitary wear. Some females use clothes, cotton wool and even newspapers when they are menstruating. The lack of access to adequate sanitary wear is one limitation, but the most prominent is the financial limitation. The menstrual cup is the answer because it is step closer to ending period poverty for every female who has fallen victim to this.
Zimbabwe is a country where according to Salary Explorer, the average salary is less than $220 a month. This money has to pay for school fees, health care, rent, food and all of life’s other necessities. Sanitary wear also has to fit in that budget and females are paying as much as $25/month in cities like Harare. This is the reality of the females in our developing countries and it is heart breaking.
Tampons and pads have been useful for a very long time but they are not sustainable
Sanitary wear is essential for women all across the globe whether it is accessible or not. However, as global warming is becoming a more ubiquitous subject matter, we all want to play our part in saving the planet for the sake of our future generations. Tampons and pads have been useful for a very long time but they are not sustainable. The menstrual cup is the device that can eradicate this issue because of its longevity.
As a Biochemistry undergraduate, I have been blessed with the opportunity at my university to carry out a project that I called ‘Kupa Women’s Project’. Kupa means ‘to give’ in Shona, one of the languages of Zimbabwe and it really is about giving. The project entails stockpiling sanitary wear in the UK and donating it in Zimbabwe, to as many females as we can reach over a period of two weeks. Kupa Women’s Project has been made possible with the help of Kegel8, who understand the benefits of the menstrual cup. Kegel8 are happy to help implement the menstrual cup in the developing world by supporting small charity projects like this one.
I have been using the menstrual cup for a little under a year now and being a student, I have managed to save over £100 from using the cup. It is a worthwhile investment that has allowed me to be more conscious of the way my body works. As females today, we like to know when we are ovulating and when our menstrual cycle will start, but not many of us keep track of just how much blood we lose each month. The most common answer, when most of us are asked by healthcare professionals about how our cycle is each month, will be “I have a heavy flow” or “I have a light to moderate flow”. According to the Centre of Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research (CEMCOR), on average, women bleed approximately 10-35ml in a cycle; that is equivalent to approximately 2-7 teaspoons! How many of us can agree with that?
I urge every female to try the menstrual cup
This is where the menstrual cup has allowed me to understand my body on a multifaceted level, with the simple ability to measure my blood loss every month. When I have some heavier months, I increase my diet in iron rich foods like kidney beans or spinach to restore my iron homeostasis. I want women across the globe to have the same benefits in life. I urge every female to try the menstrual cup after extensive research! This will enable us to empower other women across the globe to build something greater for the next girl child.
Kupa Women’s Project is fundraising to maximise the sanitary wear we can take to Zimbabwe and to hopefully raise awareness of how we are a step closer to ending period poverty. To help with the fundraising, please follow this link.