Sanitary Pads Will Change the World

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Sanitary Pads Will Change the World

Dealing with having a period each month is difficult enough, but imagine if you had no access to feminine hygiene products, and had to make due on your own. Going to the store and picking up a bag of pads or a box of tampons is something we all take for granted.

But consider this, millions of girls and women in developing countries miss up to 50 days of school/work per year because they can't afford to buy sanitary pads. In Rwanda alone, women missing work contributes to an estimated loss of  $115 million in GDP per year.

One enterprising young woman, Elizabeth Scharpf, armed with her Harvard Business School degree and a grant from the HBS Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship decided to do something about it. In 2007 Scharpf launched Sustainable Health Enterprises in an effort to tackle socio-economic problems in the developing world through market-based approaches. In layperson's terms she's turning free-market capitalism into a sustainable ecological practice.

In 2009 SHE began training women to make and market sanitary pads in Rwanda. Through product innovation and creating a financially sustainable business model owned and run by women, SHE hopes to create a template that can be replicated anywhere else in the world. You can help support SHE's efforts here.

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Comments [9]

alicetullyhall's picture

No one mentioned...

How about the trusty sponge.  It is organic, washable, reuseable; you could conceiveable use one in your lifetime.  I cannot be the only one who knows of this natural product.

alice tully-hall

Conlite's picture

This sounds like a great

This sounds like a great project concept!

I am with skate down below though, a menstrual cup is the way to go.  Cheaper (in the long run), hypoallergenic, no toxic shock syndrome, and nothing disposable so way environmentally friendly.

A friend of mine who travelled to rural Kenya on a mission/relief work trip said the keeper made things vastly simpler for her.  The only way local women had to dispose of their pads (or rags) was to go and dig a hole each time to bury them.  Keeper just needs washing each time, so she was saved a lot of digging!

skate's picture

Yeah, I can't imagine going

Yeah, I can't imagine going back to the tampon thing at this point.

Olivia Mistelle Maxell's picture

Not to...

...take away from the seriousness of this subject, and this is an actually fact, in prison, women learn to make tampons from toilet paper. I know of several homeless women, who've done the same thing. 

There's so much, at our disposal that we take for granted. Clean water. Food. Education. Roof over our heads and basic necessities. It's good, individuals create organizations like this one, to help others in need and help us be more aware to appreciate just how much we have...Smile

minniesota's picture

Creative sustainable ideas

That is some powerful application of social economics and reaffirms my faith in human spirit and creativity. I think this blog should on on the left side of the front page to give it more prominence.

Thanks for bringing this to us, Grace.

Still searching for the right brainy quote.

Not2Taem's picture


While front and center seems like a prominent position, we are used to not looking to the top of a web page unless we need the tool bar. Also, when the new design came in, it took me a ridiculous amount of time to figure out that I had to click on video on the tool bar, and then the video I wanted in order to be able to comment on it. I was sure there would be a way to do it directly from the vid on the front page and kept going in circles trying to find it.

I know. Enjoy the chuckle.  Smile

minniesota's picture

Me too

Me too. I mean,  it took me forever to spot the "Video" link in the top menu simply because I wasn't looking for it. I usually look on the left column first to see what new blogs have been posted.

I finally took a moment to figure it out because I noticed that others had found a way to comment on a new video.

Still searching for the right brainy quote.

Not2Taem's picture

Big Issue

Its amazing how so many of the little things we take for granted can be such a big issue in other communities. Thanks for helping to get this one out there.

skate's picture

Thanks for the vid!  Never

Thanks for the vid!  Never would have known about that otherwise.

On a somewhat related note, let me just say, The Keeper changed my life for the better.  Here's a link that tells what it is: