Dealing with menstrual poverty is rarely high on the to-do lists of those that are not affected by it. The reality is that it affects not just the individual, but it has a huge impact on female independence, social order, education and the local economy. Exclusion from education and work during menstruation, poor understanding, traditional culture and social stigma urgently need to be tackled if rudimentary sexual equality is ever to be achieved. To be fair a number of projects are making some good progress through education, self-help groups, and the manufacture of washable sanitary towels and the distribution of some subsidised sanitary products.
The introduction to the concept of mooncups in recent Kibera health care training caused quite a stir amongst the mixed sex attendees. Samples were passed around as excited and often heated conversations jarred with some obscure questioning. Hardly new in concept, the menstrual cup has experienced a renaissance in the UK as women look for eco-friendly and practical alternatives to the more common products. This compact silicone device sells for a few dollars, is washable and has a projected life expectancy of between 6-10 years.
Although not for everyone, for a small investment the impact could be huge. It has to be better than carrying woefully inadequate well-intended donated odd boxes of tampons in hand luggage.