These affordable, reusable menstrual pads are a good idea, period
Local co-operative Pink is not only creating eco-friendly feminine hygiene products, but job opportunities too
"Menstruation," says Jessica Gird, "is steeped in silence, myth and misunderstanding."
Gird, co-ordinator of the Midlands Meander Education Project, is one of the driving forces behind a new business, launched last week, that supplies accessible, affordable and environmentally-friendly female hygiene products.
These are nothing new, but the concept behind Pink - as the project is named - is unique.
Pink is a co-operative comprising a sewing group - which works from home making washable, reusable, fabric pads - and sales agents. The female agents double up as education officers, selling the fabric pads made from South African-made biodegradable material and reusable menstrual cups.
The agents are encouraged to sell to friends and family and to hold Tupperware-style parties in their homes.
Gird said it was while working with schools and communities that they noticed there were many young girls who didn't understand what was happening to their bodies.
"The schools avoid tackling sex education and no one wants to talk about menstruation," said Gird.
"We wanted to educate girls, prepare them for changes, give them choices and ensure they don't miss school each month.
"We also want to look after the environment," she said.
The cost to the environment is high - as many as 45 billion menstrual products are used and disposed of each year.
Each commercially-made pad can contain as much plastic as four bags.
The business is run by Gauteng entrepreneur Simphiwe Mntambo, who said her aim was to create a network of women who would provide products, services and information to address the menstrual and reproductive needs of women.
The project has been running informally in the Midlands for less than six months and already has 12 active agents and interest from two women in North West.
The plan is to go national, said Gird.
"We want to replicate what we've started in every province of the country."
• This article was originally published in The Times.