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WEpads - Sustainable Sanitary Pads for Women in South Africa

Kapstadt, South Africa

What would your life be like today if you had missed 25% of your school classes? Unimaginable?! For 1/3 of schoolgirls in South Africa, this is reality due to the lack of access to sanitary products.

WEpads (Jonathan Knickmann) from Enactus Wuppertal e.V.
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WEpads addresses the problem of Period Poverty, which describes the disadvantage for women induced by the lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, hand washing facilities and waste management. According to the UN, this leads to approximately 63 million schoolgirls worldwide who miss parts of their school education. In South Africa the number is exceptionally high as 1/3 of schoolgirls miss school during their period (Global Citizen).

In 2018, students from Wuppertal University in Germany and MIGS Consulting in South Africa decided to collaborate in researching and finding a sustainable solution to Period Poverty in South Africa. It started with the formation of a student project called WEpads, with a focus on research and knowledge exchange. Part of that was an exploratory trip to India, where we met Arunachalam Muruganantham, known from the highly praised documentary ‘Period. End of Sentence’, who is the inventor of easy-to-use machines that enable disadvantaged women to self-produce affordable sanitary pads. Together with the well-established non-profit organization Iliso Care Society and Varkey George, one of the leading practitioners of Social Entrepreneurship in the Cape region, it was decided to set up a pilot project at the Khayelitsha Township near Cape Town, South Africa. The pilot project is aiming on proofing the transferability of the Indian production method to South Africa, which will afterwards be rolled out to other townships within and beyond the Western Cape.

WEpads motivation is to strengthen the independence of women in Africa. The vision of WEpads is to fight Period Poverty by offering affordable biodegradable sanitary pads and promoting education about menstruation as well as hygiene. In self-sufficient production facilities connected to the township, women will be able to produce sanitary pads independently and be able to sell them at low cost to the people in need. This financially self-sustaining model has been tested many times in India and proofed to be very successful. The project is an opportunity to create meaningful jobs while improving feminine hygiene and creating long-term environmental value.

Our partners:
Iliso Care Society: http://ilisocaresocietyproject.org.za/
Local Experts: https://kusasalethugroup.com/
Enactus Wuppertal: https://www.enactus.de/wuppertal/