Ecological Balance has within the framework of her sustainable menstruation project, trained some 3 internally displaced seamstresses in Buea, South West Region of Cameroon on how to produce comfortable and affordable cloth pads. The training, which took place from August 17 to 20, 2021, was carried out to ensure continuous supply of pads that are good for the body & the earth for posterity.
With at least 6 million women and girls in Cameroon of menstruation age, with about 30,000 tons of menstrual waste are generated from disposable pads annually, according to the National Institute of Statistics, the organization of this training came just at an opportune moment. The 4-module intensive training took the women, who had not seen cloth pads before, through hands-on lessons on pad paper patterns, production of pads with adhesives, hand stitching of cloth pads and machine sewing.
The workshop facilitator, Miss Rose Malley Ekema, stressed on the type of materials that are suitable for cloth pad production. “The material on one end should be saying welcome and come in! The one inside should be saying welcome and stay here, and the one on the other end, should say no trespassing here, stay back,” she expounded. A wide range of materials were experimented on their ability to; welcome and let in menstrual blood, absorb menstrual blood and stop blood from passing through respectively.
There were also discussions around the choice of colors. “Menstruation is already very stressful. Please let’s give it some optimism by using bright and beautiful colors,” the trainer underscored. The project Coordinator, Ms. Hendretta Konjieh, took out time to explain that the prices of materials to be used should be carefully considered as it would not be sustainable if cloth pads are too expensive.
Period poverty is an overwhelming reality in Sub-saharan Africa. And many girls simply stay away from all human gatherings including schools during menstruation. It should be recalled that in 2019/2020, the project produced and donated over 150 cloth pads to girls and women in Buea. The feedback of which prompted the project team to organize a crowd funding campaign ( https://www.omprakash.org/global/ecological-balance/crowdfund/menstruation-is-not-a-choice–please-help-) targeted at raising $3000 to provide puberty literacy, menstruation education and reusable cloth pads to over 500 young girls in rural Cameroon.
The team also joins their voices to that of thousands of women all over the world to say that sex is a choice but menstruation is not. Hence, basic menstrual hygiene materials and services should be subsidized instead of condoms.
By Limbi Blessing