Bethany Caruso, Emory University
Imagine going through your day without ready access to clean water for drinking, cooking, washing or bathing. Around the world, 663 million people face that challenge every day. They get their water from sources that are considered unsafe because they are vulnerable to contamination, such as rivers, streams, ponds and unprotected wells. And the task of providing water for households falls disproportionately to women and girls.
Water, a human right, is critical for human survival and development. A sufficient supply of biologically and chemically safe water is necessary for drinking and personal hygiene to prevent diarrheal diseases, trachoma, intestinal worm infections, stunted growth among children and numerous other deleterious outcomes from chemical contaminants like arsenic and lead.
I have carried out research in India, Bolivia and Kenya on the water and sanitation challenges that women and girls confront and how these experiences influence their lives. In my field work I have seen adolescent girls, pregnant women and mothers with small children carrying water. Through interviews, I have learned of the hardships they face when carrying out this obligatory task.
An insufficient supply of safe and accessible water poses extra risks and challenges for women and girls. Without recognizing the uneven burden of water work that women bear, well-intentioned programs to bring water to places in need will continue to fail to meet their goals.
So, what is it like for women who live in places where sufficient and safe water is not readily accessible?
Continue reading To Empower Women, Give Them Better Access to Water
Every 28 days, millions of girls and women in developing countries miss school or work – up to 50 days per year – because they lack access to affordable menstrual products. And, it’s not just a problem in poor countries. Right here in the United States, women and girls who lack means often need both menstrual health education and reusable menstrual products.
The eight companies and organizations provide menstrual products in the United States and in Africa. Here are ways you can help them on their missions to provide women and girls with products that simply make their lives easier.
- AfriPads Foundation: If you would like to ensure that a girl in Africa receives a full year menstrual kit, you can donate monthly, yearly, or just once. AfriPads are reusable pads manufactured in Africa that employs local Ugandan women. To support one girl for one year and ensure her school attendance the cost is only 5 Euros or $5.38 currently. Donate here: www.afripadsfoundation.org
- Aunt Flow: When you buy a subscription box of menstrual pads and tampons another subscription box will be donated to a beneficiary organization that provides menstrual relief for women and girls who need it. When you purchase your subscription box, you can choose the organization where your donated box will be gifted. You can choose monthly, 6 months and annual plans www.auntflow.org
- Conscious Period: If you exclusively use tampons, you might want to opt for alternative products other than the mass marketed ones you find in every drug and grocery store. Conscious Flow provides tampons that are exclusively created with 100% organic cotton with BPA-free applicators. For every box of Conscious Period tampons you buy, a box will also be gifted to a homeless woman in the United States. consciousperiod.com
- Glad Rags: A sustainably focused Oregon company that provides cloth menstrual pads and menstrual cups, Glad Rags provides eco-friendly products for women and girls. Glad Rags gives back by working specifically with Untabooed, an organization that educates women and girls about menstrual health and provides reusable menstrual products to women in the New York City area.
- Huru International: For only $35 you can purchase a Huru International menstrual kit for a girl in Kenya or Tanzania. The kit includes eight reusable pads, 3 pairs of underwear, an infographic on proper sanitary pad usage, a waterproof bag to safely store used sanitary pads, soap to wash the sanitary pads and a life-skills educational booklet. Supporting Huru International not only allows girls to strive as they matriculate through school, but also supports its employees in its manufacturing facility in Mukuru slum in Nairobi, Kenya. www.huruinternational.org
- Luna Pads’ One 4 Her Program: Girls in schools in low- and middle-income countries tend to stay home from school when they begin to menstruate. Their periods become especially hard to manage because many cannot afford pads or even tampons. And, even if they can, frequently changing their pad is very difficult as boys and girls often share the same bathroom facilities. When shopping at Luna Pads, a company that creates sustainable alternatives to disposable menstrual products, your purchase provides a cloth menstrual pad for a girl in need through their partnership with AfriPads. One4Her also provides menstrual health education and employment opportunities for Ugandan women. lunapads.com/one4her
- Ruby Cup: One of the most well-known alternatives to reuable tampons and menstrual pads is the Ruby Cup. It is eco-friendly and cost-effective menstrual pad. When you buy one Ruby Cup, one is donated to a girl in East Africa. The Ruby Cup also allows a young girl to wear it during their period without the panic of running out of tampons or pads and they don’t have to throw it away contributing to more waste in their communities. www.rubycup.com
- SHE (Sustainable Health Enterprises): SHE has created an innovative way for banana farmers in Rwanda to use the banana husks they discard to produce menstrual pads for girls. SHE provides both jobs for workers, pads for Rwandan girls in schools, and also menstrual education. You can donate directly to SHE to support their efforts in Rwanda. sheinnovates.com
Photo: Jennifer James
School girls in Zambia conducting a reproductive health class with their peers
We are very pleased and excited to announce our new weekly chats all about maternal health with some of the leading maternal health experts, researchers, practitioners, and organizations in the world under the #maternalhealthchat hashtag.
Starting on Tuesday, November 8 at 1 PM EST with Jacaranda Health we will host 30-minute chats each week all about maternal and reproductive health as well as the health of newborns. We will dig into statistics, best practices, innovative tools and programs that save lives as well as feature and highlight the people and organizations that are making a difference to save the lives of women the world over.
Join us on November 8 at 1 PM EST with our first featured organization, Jacaranda Health. Jacaranda Health is a nonprofit social enterprise that provides high-quality, respectful, and low-cost maternity services to women in Kenya. Their innovations have resulted in 99.9% survival rates for newborns and mothers, 45% fewer maternal complications than nearby public hospitals in Kenya, and postpartum family planning rates that are 4x higher than the national average. To learn more about Jacaranda’s progress, view their 2015 impact report.
With all of the amazing work Jacaranda Health is doing, they can use your financial help. They are raising $10,000 for their Nairobi-based maternity hospital. Small donations really do make a difference!
We cannot wait to see you online on November 8 at 1:00 EST!
If you or your organization would like to be a part of our #maternalhealthchat please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Elizabeth Echoka, Kenya Medical Research Institute and Lydia Kaduka, Kenya Medical Research Institute
Nutrition of women before and during pregnancy and when breastfeeding is critical in determining the health and survival of the mother and of her unborn baby.
Undernourished pregnant women have higher reproductive risks. They are more likely to experience obstructed labour, or to die during or after childbirth. Poor nutrition in pregnancy also results in babies growing poorly in the womb and being born underweight and susceptible to diseases. These mothers also invariably produce low quality breast milk.
Maternal malnutrition has inter-generational consequences because it is cyclical. Poor nutrition in pregnancy is linked to undernourishment in-utero which results in low birth weight, pre-maturity, and low nutrient stores in infants. These babies end up stunted and, in turn, give birth to low birth weight babies. Optimal maternal nutrition is therefore vital to break this inter-generational cycle.
In Kenya, women’s nutritional needs during pregnancy has not received much attention. This has exposed a gap in efforts to improve maternal and child health.
Continue reading Maternal Malnutrition Affects Future Generations: Kenya Must Break the Cycle