To create social awareness about maintaining menstrual hygiene, the WASH United, a German non-profit advocacy and education group launched Menstrual Hygiene Day in 2014.

This year’s theme for Menstrual Hygiene Day is calling for more action and investment in menstrual health and hygiene now. 30-years-old graphic designer, Orefile Malebo is taking action and making an investment in menstrual health through teaching females on social media how to make their own sanitary pads using household materials such as plastic bags, face cloth and even socks.

While doing her thesis for her BTech degree at the Free State’s Central University of Technology, she conducted research on how to make DIY cheap and reusable sanitary towels to promote them to young girls and women, this is how the Sis Paddy project came to life.

“I didn’t get a lot of information in South Africa with DIY sanitary pads. So I based my BTech project on how to promote reusable sanitary towels for young girls and how to make them and to educate them about menstruation as a whole,” said the 30-years-old graphic designer.

Period poverty

According to the World Bank, an estimated 500 million women and girls lack adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene. “According to the international NGO ActionAid, one in 10 girls in Africa miss school because of menstruation.

Period poverty is a prevalent issue in South Africa and there is a large number of people who don’t have access to menstrual education or sanitary products. In afforts to try alleviate period poverty, the South African government removed the 15% Value Added Tax in 2019 to make them cheaper.

“A lot of young girls are struggling to have access to sanitary pads. Some people will use socks, leaves or even toilet paper during their menstruation,” said Malebo.

“Being a woman myself, I have experienced a time where you don’t have a disaposable pad or you don’t know what to use. During those times you will try to use anything that you can find. I’ve gone to the bathroom and rolled lots of toilet paper just so that it will stop the leakage at the time and your clothes won’t be spoiled,” she continued.

Menstruation and school

According to a study conducted by Stellenbosch University, an estimated 30% of girls in South Africa don’t go to school while they are menstruating because they can’t afford sanitary products.

Orefile is creating access to sanitary products, educating the public on the effects of period poverty, and destigmatising the subject of menstruation are all essential steps we can take towards ending period poverty in South Africa through making DIY sanitary pads. – Health-e News