what we work on

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Menstrual Hygiene Management

giving more women and girls access toaffordable menstrual hygiene products

Every month in Tanzania millions of women and girls face the impossible challenge of managing their periods without hygienic, convenient, comfortable menstrual products. Most women resort to strips of cloth, which are difficult to keep clean in a country where social taboo makes it impossible to hang the strips out in the sun to dry. Cloth leaks too, limiting a woman’s ability to move around and keeping girls from attending school. Social norms prevent open discussion of this huge problem. Greater adoption of more affordable, more widely-available modern menstrual hygiene products is the solution to this problem. That is our goal.

The first step was the abolition of VAT on sanitary pads in the Government of Tanzania’s 2018/19 fiscal budget. We drew on our coalition-building experience to coordinate an influential group of women’s rights campaigners, UN agencies, parliamentarians and civil servants that successfully pushed for the change. Since then a host of other countries across the region have followed suit, replicating lessons learned in Tanzania. 

Now our focus is on market-led reforms. We are working with manufacturers, distributors and retailers to develop new products and bring down costs across the supply chain, increasing the number of women and girls reached by every brand. Our market analysis and consumer research has compelled two major brands to increase spending on marketing and distribution which has already seen higher sales in wider geographic markets. 

Changing the social norms that make it taboo to talk about menstruation in Tanzanian is also essential if men are going to include the cost of pads for their wives and daughters in the monthly household budget. Our marketing partners have recruited a team of Tanzanian celebrities, male and female, to lead a new, public conversation about periods and bring a private, lonely battle out in the open.

The menstrual cup offers women and girls an alternative, environmentally- sustainable means of managing their menstrual blood. We helped get the product licensed in Tanzania and are working with two new, innovative brands to conduct research into its use and correct misconceptions and stigma that surround the device through education and outreach. 

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Sanitary pads on beer trucks: how to reach rural women and girls (LINK TO WINDWARD BLOGPOST)