A Menstrual Health Specialist Trust (MHS) which is to boost donor and partner support for menstrual health products in Zimbabwe has been officially launched.
By Michael Gwarisa
Speaking at the launch, The Butterfly Cup Company Managing Director, Sarah Fox said girls from marginalised communities were finding it hard to access sanitary wear and at times end up missing school lessons and productive time as they try to manage their periods in isolation.
By launching the MHS trust, we hope to be able to engage with you to help vulnerable women through providing a choice for sanitary products that are safe, sustainable and environmentally friendly. Our journey to today started in 2016 after a conversation with a friend I had in Zambia who told me about menstrual cups and about the plight of women when it comes to accessing sanitary wear.
“I was truly shocked by what she said and on returning to Zimbabwe, my friend and business partner Anny and I decided to understand how women and girls manage their periods here. Sadly the story was all but too familiar with girls telling us how they use bits of rag, grass, mattress stuffing, paper, cow dung and maize cobs,” said Sarah.
She added that vulnerable girls said at times they develop rashes, infections and at times lifelong reproductive health issues because they are forced to improvise since they cannot afford sanitary products.
“This led us to conducting a comprehensive investigation of possible menstrual products to not only provide a solution for girls but also to address the issues of sustainability and the environment.
“Disposable pads contain large amounts of plastic and are not economically sustainable. Reusable pads are only sustainable whilst the projects to make them is financially supported whilst there is little regulation on the quality or consistency of the product. We believe that whatever product we support has to be one that we produce ourselves, the reusable pad just didn’t work for us,” she said.
She also said their two products, the Menstrual Cup and The Butterfly Cup were both environmentally friendly, cost effective and sustainable. The Butterfly Cup has been approved by the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) and to date, The Butterfly Cup has distributed over 4000 cups in various trials working organisations such the FH360, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) And the Beatrice Project.
They are currently training and distributing over 9000 more through Populating Services International (PSI), Population Services Zimbabwe (PSZ), and the London School of Tropical Hygiene and Medicine. The first trial was done with the FH360 Dreams initiative and the uptake was 100 percent successful.
The MHS Trust will work with the Butterfly Cup Co and Viva Lily to procure menstrual cups and period underwear.
The two products, the cup and the underwear have undergone numerous trails and have been proven to be the right products to provide ultimate comfort and protection for girls in schools and women in work. They will also be extending education programs and working towards a holistic approach on menstrual health which acknowledges the need to include boys and men in our work.
Member of Parliament, Honorable Priscilla Misihairambwi applauded the launch of the MHS and vowed to keep on fighting for access to menstrual health and services for every woman and girl in the country.