Not to sound too impressed, but what WonderCup as an organization and as a philosophy is doing is amazing. My name is Yana and I am the coordinator of their fundraising campaign. No, I didn’t invent the product, but when I met the social entrepreneur behind it I was instantly hooked. See I am a communications consultant and I work to promote projects and organizations whose purpose is to increase opportunities for girls and women—whether building schools, creating scholarship funds, advocating for reproductive health rights, or introducing the female condom to new users. With these other projects, I could always see how it would help, but I must admit I didn’t understand the ripple effect a reliable and affordable feminine hygiene product could have on a woman’s life.
This project started off by donating, not selling, 5,000 WonderCups to TheCup program operating in Kenya. The Cup is an amazing organization—they use local trainers to educate young girls and women in low income areas, I mean families living on $1-2/day, about the benefits of menstrual cups. WonderCup was the first company to offer to give them cups allowing The Cup to use their money to conduct more outreach programs instead of buying reduced price ($20) cups. While conducting their workshops, the founder and trainers were confronted with cringe worthy accounts of what girls and women did while on their period. Part of the problem was reproductive system knowledge but most of it was related to a lack of money to purchase sanitary napkins.
Girls would stay home from school to sit in a corner and bleed. Teenagers often engaged in transactional sex with older men to get the money they needed to purchase pads. Grown women would skip work for fear of an accident. Others would use whatever they could find, mattress filling, leaves, tissue, old cloth, pretty much anything that could absorb the flow. Of course you know this caused all manner of avoidable infections and embracing odors.
WAIT, WHAT DID YOU SAY? SKIP SCHOOL, HAVE SEX FOR PADS, MISS WORK…IT’S 2016 HOW CAN THIS BE?
Then I read the World Bank stats regarding the days of school and work missed by women in developing nations simply because of their periods. By the way the estimate is 20% the education of a girl living in the developing world is missed because of their periods. In Kenya alone, annually about 100 million working days are lost due to women staying at home during their period.
I guess now you can understand why I wanted to help and I hope you do too. While the company is based in Kenya, I decided to tap a few friends who are also dedicated to female justice issues. With their support we launch this fundraising campaign to bring WonderCups to Colombia, Ghana, and Kenya. In each country we partnered with an organization dedicated to educating girls and women across their country about reproductive health and the benefits of the WonderCup. Our goal is not only to provide each of these organizations with at least 4,000 donated WonderCups but also to create a WonderCup salesforce of low income women who will sell the cups at a fair market rate about $4.00 and earn a commission for their efforts. Moreover, in each country we are supporting women’s entrepreneurship by locally manufacturing the reusable bags.
Now you understand the social impact let me take a moment to mention the environmental impact. Every year, approximately 20 Billion pads, tampons, and applicators find their way into North American landfills. Let me put it another way, the average woman bleeds for a total of 6 years of the course of her life. Do you know how many disposable products it takes to absorb that much blood? It’s about half a truck’s worth and no I don’t mean a pick-up truck I am talking a long haul rig. So even if the plight of young women in the developing world doesn’t urge you to click the contribute button think about the carbon emissions and the refuse that lands in the ocean.