1,000 MPower Menstrual Cups are being donated to women who cannot afford traditional sanitaryware products during Women's Month 2010
Sixty percent of South Africa's menstruating population does not have access to pads and tampons. And the average schoolgirl living in an impoverished area is likely to miss one week a month of school each year, due to her period.
Lack of access to basic amenities such as running water, refuse collection, electricity and ablution facilities is the harsh reality that these women are faced with on a daily basis.
Menstruation in these communities is literally a dirty word.
"Women are being disempowered and stripped of their dignity on the most basic level," founder of MPower Menstrual Cups, Glenda Tutt, said in a statement. "Pads and tampons are simply not available in these communities, they are too expensive and the facilities available to them do not allow for adequate disposal."
"The long-term social and economic implications are enormous," internationally trained Clinical Sexologist, Dr Marlene Wasserman, aka Dr Eve, said. "The probability of a young women dropping out of school completely, due to lack of access to sanitaryware, is extremely high."
The Karabo Initiative, a project focused on providing the mass market with a sustainable solution to sanitaryware, has set its sights on providing 1,000 MPower Menstrual Cups to women who cannot afford traditional sanitaryware products during Women's Month 2010.
This is the first initiative in the world to provide the mass market with access to a sustainable solution.
Made locally from 100% medical grade silicone, an MPower Menstrual Cup can hold up to almost three times the fluid than an average tampon or sanitary pad, and it does not need to be changed as regularly as a pad or tampon.
The insertable cup-shaped product is easy to clean, entirely invisible, with no strings and can last a minimum of five years.
Based on conservative figures, a woman will use 240 pads every year. This translates into 1,200 pads over a five-year period. "The MPower Menstrual Cup will save R1,716 over five years - the savings are significant," Tutt said.
The cup costs R265 retail and is meant tolast for about five years.
"From an environmental, health and cost point of view, the MPower Menstrual Cup just makes sense," author and reproductive health expert Marion Stevens said. "The cups will revolutionise access to sanitaryware and empower thousands of women."
"Our goal is to supply 1, 000 MPower Menstrual Cups to the mass market of women who do not have access to it or cannot afford it during Women's Month 2010.
"We will be working closely with shelters to make our vision a reality.
"Our long-term aim is to provide more than one million women with a sustainable sanitaryware solution by 2015," Tutt said.
The traditional sanitary ware market is an R800 million business. Each month more than 160 million pads and tampons are thrown away in South Africa alone.
Pads and tampons are non-biodegradable and this has negative affects on the environment. The makers of the MPower Menstrual Cup say their product is non-toxic to the body as it is non-porous and non-absorbent.
"The MPower Menstrual Cup is an innovative health product that has far-reaching positive outcomes in many areas of society. The cup can be used by women of all ages, it is easy to store and easy to clean - even in areas where women have no access to running water," Dr Wasserman said. "This product has my full endorsement. It is vital to the rights and dignity of every woman."