Today is International Women’s Day and our project proudly recognizes, and stands in solidarity with, the incredible women and girls all around the world that face a day-to-day adversity that is individual only to them.
Aside from promoting and standing for equality across the board for women, our project has also focused on creating a sanitation solution that focuses on the needs and safety of women and girls.
Intentional partnerships, like the one we have with SEWA – a women’s union in India with national reach in-country, that supports user studies through the mobilization of communities to provide input and feedback – have had a direct influence on our system design and approach. This data we collect is being implemented into our toilet system so that we can provide a space of safety for women and girls to relieve and care for themselves with dignity.
Our team is also sharing this data openly – collaborating with other institutions to help develop system designs, as well as educate on the needs for better access to proper MHM (Menstrual Hygiene Management). Many cultures around the world still don’t recognize this vital need in society, resorting to damaging and often dangerous treatment of women and girls during their monthly period. We are trying to do our part to help remedy that.
It goes without saying that toilets can’t solve every issue a woman faces daily, but they can at least make portions of their day-to-day life easier and safer.
You can find more information on International Women’s Day right here.
A great article by Rebecca Hobson on India’s burgeoning (and lucrative) market for menstruation management was posted recently on vice.com’s “Broadly.” channel. It discusses how, finally, the armor that surrounds the fear and ignorance of a woman’s period – and how to properly handle it – is developing some cracks in recent years.
“India is currently experiencing something of a menstrual health enlightenment. Numerous NGOs, government campaigns and social enterprises have sprung up in the last five years. All with the same mission: to address and remedy the country’s complicated and complex attitudes towards menstruation.”
It’s high time this enlightenment is occurring too. For generations women have been obscenely mistreated and shunned for something that occurs naturally in every woman, every month, since the human race began.
“These same women are often considered impure while on their period. They are barred from the kitchen, temples, mosques and, bizarrely, from pickle—which they’re told will rot if they touch it. Taboos that would be farcical if the consequences weren’t so dire.”
The piece also covers how, now that local people (and companies) are becoming knowledgable on menstrual hygiene management, that there is a bit of a race to find what is the best option for a place as densely populated as India. Pads are a start but, depending on how they are made, can lead to a huge waste problem – not to mention an equally huge plumbing problem in a place where functioning sewerage is already in dire supply. Menstrual cups are also an option that produce way less waste. But there is still stigma surrounding it societally, though even that is changing worldwide.
In short, it’s a complicated issue, and to a certain degree it needs to be. There is no turn key solution. What works in some countries, can’t/won’t in others. We all need to work towards solutions that can work for every female on this planet. Regardless of geography or culture.
There’s much, much more in this article that is well worth your time. Click here to read it in it’s entirety.