Helping women and girls get the very basics of healthcare
My work at is about supporting women to bring about optimal health for themselves. But, in many developing countries, women and girls are struggling to get the very basics of healthcare, namely menstrual products. Every day, several hundred million women and girls are prevented from participating fully in society because of their period.
The quality of life for women and girls is significantly reduced due to lack of access to adequate menstrual products
Not being able to afford or have access to adequate, effective and safe menstrual products can hold women and girls back and significantly reduce their quality of life. The situation is made more difficult for many women, who must also navigate the layers of taboo and stigma that shroud menstruation. Many school-age girls will be absent from school up to 20% of the time due to a lack of access to adequate menstrual products.
Whilst many improvise, using items such as cloth, mattress stuffing, feathers, animal hide, bark or newspaper; these can be unreliable and uncomfortable and have been known to cause health problems including rashes, irritation and infections.
Women will spend 8.2 years on their period
From puberty to menopause, a woman will menstruate for up to 3,000 days, equating to 8.2 years over the course of her lifetime! It simply isn't acceptable that women should be excluded from life due to something that can be solved so simply.
The Cup Effect
I have been privileged to work with the charity, The Cup Effect, over the past couple of years. Founded by the incredible Mandu Reid, The Cup Effect’s mission is to make it easier for women and girls across the world to live, work and study with dignity, comfort and confidence, whilst also protecting the planet by reducing the number of disposable menstrual products we use.
They do this by providing menstrual education, busting taboos and promoting menstrual cups far and wide. The goal is to see a world where all women and girls, regardless of where they live or their economic status, have access to sustainable menstrual products.
So what are menstrual cups?
Cups are an ingenious alternative to pads, tampons or other menstrual products. They are usually made of soft medical-grade silicone, and crucially can be reused for up to 10 years! This means for each cup user, a whole decade of being able to manage her period reliably, effectively and safely, with confidence and dignity; whilst producing no solid waste from her period for landfill, incineration, or other means of disposal, resulting in significant environmental benefits.
How does The Cup Effect work?
The charity currently has operations in locations in Kenya and Malawi with ambitions to expand to other African countries and across the world. Partnering with established organisations in those regions who already have the trust of significant numbers of women and girls, they offer information and awareness training about cups, and provide cups to be distributed to those who would like to try one.
They strive to involve whole communities, including older women, fathers, brothers, husbands and male peers. This helps to demystify menstruation and gradually erodes some of the taboos that surround it. Where possible, they also engage with local faith groups, traditional chiefs and others who have significant influence over people’s life choices and attitudes.
How can we support The Cup Effect?
It’s my hope that by supporting The Cup Effect we can raise awareness for these issues and the incredible work of the charity. We have to break down the barriers and awkwardness people feel talking about periods and the general lack of knowledge about cups (all over the world)… only then can we start to really address the issues and immense challenges some women and girls face every single month of their fertile lives.
If you are a women over 40, your periods will last, on average, for another 5-10 years. If you have daughters, their 8.2 years of time on their periods is still ahead of them. If you'd like to try a cup for yourself, or would like to buy one as a gift, please click here for more information. (By the way they are superb when travelling!) Funds generated from cup sales support the charity's work and helps to pay for the cups that are distributed to those women and girls in most need.
When you become a client of Christine Jones , a donation is made to The Cup Effect that enables them to provide a woman or girl with a menstrual health education session, access to support via a local partner, and her own menstrual cup which will last for a whole decade!