BanaPads

Of its 34.6M inhabitants, approximately 50% of Uganda’s population is women. Of these women, over 60% are below the age of 25. At age of 9, many begin puberty and their monthly menstrual cycle, which persists until their late 40’s or early 50’s. Over 10M Ugandan women currently experience this cycle, and each of them needs at least 1 pack of 10 sanitary pads, valued at approximately US$1 every month. However, because over 70% of Uganda’s population lives on less than a dollar a day, it is virtually impossible for most women to afford a consistent supply of pads at current pricing and distribution channels. It is estimated that less than 5% of the girls and young women who need a regular supply of sanitary pads can afford them. Lack of access to sanitary pads has contributed greatly to the disempowerment and disgrace of many young girls who are often unfairly subjected to judgment by a society that perceives menstruation as a socially undignified act. To save themselves from shame and at times social exclusion, most young girls in rural areas will do anything to stop the blood flow, from using leaves and hides to rags and newspapers, consequently exposing themselves to a myriad of infections related to poor hygiene. The most destitute individuals don’t use anything at all and opt to isolate themselves from school and society altogether. This is further perpetuated by the fact that most rural schools have meager sanitation facilities, access to water, toilets, and waste facilities, which are all necessities for girls going through their cycles.