In developing countries like Mozambique, there are a number of issues related to menstruation, which not only impact women’s health, but also their development and quality of life. These issues are particularly detrimental for girls.

Menstruation is heavily stigmatized due to a lack of education and cultural beliefs, which can limit girls’ access to hygiene and interaction with their community. Facilities such as separate women’s or private bathrooms—or those with running water and soap—often do not exist, making it challenging for girls to change sanitary products and wash. Girls also have limited options for feminine hygiene products and may have to use “traditional” methods such as cloths, papers or leaves, which can be uncomfortable and allow leakage onto clothes. Where options such as pads do exist, they are often cost prohibitive. Over 80% of the population lives on less than $2 a day and approximately 60% of the population lives in severe poverty, so families prioritize their spending on food and other essentials.

These challenges lead to more serious issues such as reproductive diseases caused by poor menstrual hygiene and school absenteeism. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, one in ten African girls do not attend school during menstruation. In addition, girls may refrain from participating in physical activities and have a lower level of confidence.

The Initiative

Emma Wright and Carla Walp, two students from Seattle Pacific University, approached CouldYou? with a cost effective solution for manufacturing and shipping menstrual cups and shared their desire to make a difference in the lives of girls in developing countries. The cups are certified safe by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are environmentally responsible since one cup can be used for up to 15 years.

CouldYou? brought together the right partners in Mozambique, including the Chissano Foundation and Pathfinder International, with support from the Ministries of Health and Education, to initiate a study on the acceptability and feasibility of the menstrual cups. When approved, the study will be conducted throughout 2017 with girls in both urban and rural environments. The study will be integrated into current girls’ health initiatives in schools and will be conducted with the utmost respect for cultural sensitivities, in close collaboration with the impacted communities.

If successful, the study can lead to the rollout of menstrual cups across Mozambique and potentially other African countries. It will also make an important contribution to the global body of knowledge around menstrual health, which is increasingly being recognized as a priority.

80%

live on less than $2 a day

60%

live in severe poverty

Join Us

CouldYou? is dedicated to seeing the menstrual cups study within Mozambique through to completion and if proven successful, helping it to scale across Mozambique and the African continent.

CouldYou? is also open to facilitating other initiatives like this one, with the ability to scale and improve the health and quality of life for people across Africa.

We are seeking partners who may be interested in the study results and can help us to communicate them widely. We are also seeking partners who can eventually help us to scale the solution both within Mozambique and across Africa.