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Skipping school because of menstruation


Leanka Sayer

Community Manager, Ruby Cup

Women and girls living in poverty often struggle to afford proper menstrual care products. Now NGOs have started to work with menstrual cups to fight period poverty.

What is a menstrual cup?

Most menstrual cups are made from medical grade silicone, can be reused up to 10 years, and provide up to 12 hours of comfortable, leak-free protection. The cup is a small bell-shaped device that sits about half an inch inside the vagina where it collects, rather than absorbs menstrual fluid. This allows the vagina’s pH balance to stay intact, therefore being a healthy option to conventional menstrual products.

The longevity of a menstrual cup makes it an economical and sustainable solution. It has been around since the 1930ies, but only recently entered the mainstream market of menstrual care products. Especially for women and girls living in poverty, having this product as an option can be a life-changing solution.

A sustainable solution

Menstrual cups remove the financial burden of having to buy monthly supplies and they do not create waste compared to disposable products. Apart from being sold commercially, social enterprises and NGOs have started to work with menstrual cups as a sustainable solution for girls and women living in poverty. Ruby Cup for instance runs a Buy One Give One Programme to support NGOs in East Africa with menstrual cups. Girls have reported improved self-esteem and concentration in school. They feel confident and are able to participate in class and other activities with their friends instead of staying home to avoid staining their school uniform.

The cup also removes the need to use unsafe solutions such as old rags, newspaper or tissue that pose serious health risks and are often associated with shame. It allows menstruators to stay safe and healthy, and does not sacrifice their ability to participate in work, school or daily activities.

Women’s relationship with their bodies

Experienced menstrual cup users will tell you that it requires a bit of learning to get used to using this little device but you can also expect that any menstrual cup user will be very happy to offer you tips and advice. Many women report that their relationship to their body and period experience improves when using a menstrual cup and are eager to share.

It’s of course important to acknowledge that every menstruator’s anatomy is different and there is no one-product-fits all solution but it’s safe to say that menstrual cups have numerous potential benefits for both people and the planet.

Menstrual cups may be life-changing for women and girls living in poverty, but all women can benefit from switching to a cup.

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