Health workers and patients protesting at the Hospital Dr. Jose Maria Vargas in Caracas, Venezuela. EPA/Edwinge Montilva
Pia Riggirozzi, University of Southampton
Venezuela sits on the world’s biggest oil reserves, but in terms of GDP growth per capita, it’s now South America’s poorest economy. It is mired the worst economic crisis in its history, with an inflation rate in the region of 500%, a volatile exchange rate, and crippling debts that have increased fivefold since 2006.
The economic crisis is inflaming a longstanding “economic war” between the government and the business sector – and a dangerous cycle of protest and repression is further polarising Venezuela’s already divided society.
In this scenario, violence of all sorts is approaching what could be a point of no return. The very ability of democracy to combine forces of transformation and resistance is at stake.
Continue reading Venezuela’s Health Systems are crumbling – and Harming Women in Particular
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
There are many businesses and organizations out there doing great menstrual health work. As we discover more of them we’ll add them below because many give back to various regions of the world. Some focus on developing countries while others concentrate on providing quality menstrual products to low-income women and girls right here in the United States.
Eco Femme: Eco Femme is a global women’s empowerment project promoting menstrual practices that are healthy, dignified, affordable and eco positive to India’s women and girls. A social enterprise, Eco Femme’s pads are locally produced in India. They also provide much-needed menstrual education to girls and disadvantaged women. For every Eco Femme pad purchased, Eco Femme is able to provide cloth pads to Indian girls who need them.
LOLA: LOLA provides 100% organic cotton tampon subscription service. All of their feminine products are created without dyes and additives. Additionally, their tampon applicators are BPA-free. With your subscription LOLA donates menstrual products to low-income women and girls in the United States. To date they have donated 100,000 tampons since 2015.
Photo: Jennifer James
School girls in Zambia conducting a reproductive health class with their peers
Lydia Mwanzia, Moi University
Giving birth is a significant life event that should aim for a healthy baby and mother. There are growing calls for women to give birth in their preferred birth positions. But this requires midwives to be trained in a way that enables them to respect the choices that women make. The Conversation Africa’s health editor Joy Wanja Muraya asked Lydia Mwanzia to explain why women have the right to make choices, and the important role played by midwives.
Continue reading Midwives and The Right of Women to Give Birth the Way They Want
World Pulse, a social network connecting women who work for change, is currently looking for stories on reproductive health and choices.
World Pulse’s story prompt:
How do the laws in your country affect your reproductive health and choices? What are the most important victories, setbacks, and pressing issues you face?
Do you have a story about legislation that affects you personally or someone you know? Or if the laws protect your rights, are there cultural attitudes that undermine them? Have you witnessed grassroots efforts to increase access to reproductive health care or change policy?
Join voices from across the globe speaking out for women’s autonomy, health, and wellbeing.
Deadline: January 19, 2017 by 11:59 PST
If your story is chosen you will be a featured storyteller on WorldPulse.com and will receive a $100 USD honorarium.
Visit WorldPulse.com for more information and to submit your story.