Over half the population of the world (that’s 3.8 billion people today) menstruate for around 4 days every month, for the majority of their lifetime. This makes menstruation one of the most globally shared experiences and health issues of our time.
Most of us talk about menstruation as “periods”, or through more creative lingo such as: “Crossing the red sea” or “Girls’ day in”, and it refers to the monthly discharging of blood from the lining of the uterus.
Periods are healthy, normal and serve a vital function when it comes to reproduction. In short, you and I wouldn’t be here without them!
Why is menstruation a public health issue?
So, if menstruation is so commonplace and so normal then why is there a public health issue surrounding them?
The sad truth is many women all over the world do not have access to adequate safe and hygienic period care products. In Kenya for example studies have suggested that around 65% of young school girls have relied on homemade solutions including rags and pieces of mattress.
This can lead to serious health issues (including infections that can spread to the cervix and uterus) as well as discomfort, stress and embarrassment. We were shocked about the fact that it is not unheard of that girls are forced in to transactional sex to acquire sanitary products.
In turn many women struggle to work, young girls miss school days. In extreme cases, the girls end up dropping out of school entirely. In Kenya, many girls miss out on 20% of school days and in Ethiopia this number climbs to 50%. In the UK 1 out of 10 school girls do not have access to needed period products and 50% of those affected end up missing out on school.
In a recent global study it was found that nearly half of all women have experienced period shame at some point. In some places the stigma and lack of education is so prominent that women are banished from the home or are unable to bathe for the duration of the period.
It’s not hard then to imagine the consequences to our society as a whole when, half of the population miss out on education, work, health and other basic needs because of something so commonplace.
An industry that needs to change
This is where the shame, stigma and lack of education around periods really comes into play. In more rural areas, around 64% of girls reported having poor education when it comes to menstruation and around the world many girls are so unprepared for their first period that. When it comes, they believe they are ill or dying.
The stigma that surrounds periods makes it difficult for a lot of people to talk about it, share information, resources and become educated.
The future of period care: Menstrual cups
This is the perfect example of how innovation and thought leadership can start to help solve these global issues.
The menstrual cup is a soft, silicone cup that sits inside the vagina and collects menstrual blood. It’s reusable and lasts for years which means you don’t have to worry about getting hold of more products and, unlike more traditional commercial products such as cotton pads and tampons, creates no disposable waste.
When inserted correctly, the menstrual cup provides up to 12 hours of leak-free use and discreet, hygienic protection in a way that is healthier for your body.
For women all over the world this is no less than a game changer. In a recent survey by Lunette 88% of women in Germany reported having a better quality of life during menstruation because of the Lunette Menstrual Cup.
But if menstrual cups are so awesome then why don’t we hear more about them? We will answer this question during the workshop.
Opportunity for passionate young entrepreneurs
As a Menstrual cup producer, Lunette is thrilled to be part of Nairobi Innovation Week and to be hosting a full day workshop on “Innovations for public health”.
The workshop targets 30 male and female students from the University of Nairobi on the 6th of March. The workshop is co-organized in partnership with PATH and the Embassy of Finland in Kenya and includes discussions and Q & A sessions led by experienced facilitators from PATH. The workshop offers an opportunity to brainstorm and present business ideas the best of which may be considered for funding!
If you’re passionate about entrepreneurship and interested in learning more about this industry, be sure to apply. We welcome both men and women to take part, to really change things for women, it must be a joint effort by both sexes.
Deadline for applications is 13th February. Be sure to get your applications in early for the best chance of attending!
Click here and follow the instructions to submit your application:
The Nairobi Innovation Week is an annual event convened by the University of Nairobi. It is held within the university grounds at the main campus off University Way. The inaugural event was held in August 2015 with 2 more events in the subsequent years. NIW 2018 will the 4th event since inception. This year’s theme is dubbed “INNOVATING FOR A BETTER TOMORROW”.