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Women all over the world share one thing. Their periods. With women’s health improving globally we have never menstruated more than we do today but still millions of women don’t know why they menstruate, live restricted lives during their period, and can’t afford products to manage it. In order to improve women’s lives and create an inclusive world where girls can thrive, TPW member Cristina Ljungberg (TPW 2012 – 2013), of the Giving Wings Foundation, has developed a Menstrual Health portfolio as a strategic way to support young women and girls.
So far the portfolio has invested in seven programs, including The Cup Foundation. The Cup started as a pilot two years ago in Kenya, working with girls in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, providing them with sexual and reproductive health education and giving them training and access to menstrual cups. Having reached and trained over 5000 girls The Cup has provided not only a way to manage periods but also increased the girl's chances of staying in school and living a healthier, safer life.
It’s easy to take the sanitary products for granted but access to pads or tampons is rare in large parts of the world. More commonly women use an old cloth, fabric from a dress, leaves, a piece of mattress, or whatever they may find to manage their bleeding. Use of unhygienic materials and the lack of access to clean water both disempowers women and girls and puts them at health risk. Some girls resort to prostituting themselves to raise the money they need to buy pads, putting themselves at additional risk for HIV and STDs.
During the four-week training with The Cup, the girls in the program learn about several topics such as human rights, reproductive health, sex education, team building and empowerment. The actual cup is introduced in the third session when the girls have gotten to know each other better and feel comfortable in the space.