Eco Smart Pads: This Ugandan Startup Is Making Low Cost Sanitary Pads Out Of Sugarcane – The cost of sanitary pads or towels is a big issue, especially in Africa. Due to the inability to afford these costs a lot of girls and women lose opportunities that would have been met up with if that time of the month could be better managed and this is why eco smart pads are such a useful innovation.
Take as a quick instance (of the opportunities that the girl child misses) the UN estimate that one in ten girls in sub-Saharan Africa do not attend school during menstruation.
Education is a vital necessity to the girl child in Africa and missing school packs a whole bunch of negative repercussions that could limit just how far the girl child can improve her life and that of her family.
Enter Eco Smart Pads, a sanitary pad alternative that wants to help girls stay in school. The co-founder of eco smart pads spoke about their vision thus;
“Many girls cannot afford the sanitary pads on the market. When you go to schools you will be surprised to know that some will miss school because they are going through their menstrual periods, the four days of their menstrual periods, they do not have the right materials to use, they are so embarrassed in public because they will stain their dresses and everyone will laugh at them so they choose to stay at home.”
The startup is, therefore, working to create a more affordable alternative brand of pads to help girls stay in school. As a solution to the high cost of producing pads, the start up is using sugarcane to make their own brand of pads. Sugarcane fibers are a low-cost, absorbent alternative.
In production, they boil the sugarcane residue to remove the sugar content and to soften it and then the dried fiber is used to fashion out sanitary pads.
Eco smart pads are reusable for up to 12 months, and they last up to 9 hours before they need changing. As an added advantage, the pads are also biodegradable and are therefore safe for the environment.
With their innovative idea, the Eco Smart company recently won a grant of 10,000 US dollars in a competition that supports entrepreneurs seeking to address sexual reproductive health challenges.
Such solutions are necessary and laudable and we can only hope that they keep coming until no girl child has to miss school because of the inability to appropriately manage her menstrual cycle.