Around the world, girls and women resort to using rags, mattress stuffing, banana leaves, feathers, and even cow dung to manage their menstruation. Having access to washable sanitary pads, along with private washing facilities and targeted education for both girls and boys, is essential for the dignity of girls and women and helps to keep them in school/at work throughout the year.
For the past 5 years we have been taking washable sanitary pads out to the school on our trustee visits. In the early years a Scottish chapter of Days for Girls generously donated packs of pads and pants for Uphill Junior School, and since then we have been buying ready made pads ourselves or our supporters have made pads for us to take out.
Female staff with Days for Girls packs in 2016
As the school now has three treadle sewing machines on site, the time was right to put this resource into the hands of those who need it the most…
Some internet research, a spot of shopping, a rootle through our home fabric collections, and a few trial runs were all that was needed to put together a washable sanitary pad-making workshop for Uphill Junior School.
We invited interested teachers, the school nurse, the director’s wife, and any pupils who wanted to join in to the introductory workshop, and we hope that they will disseminate the skills learned throughout the school over time. A starter supply of all the materials, along with step by step instructions have been left at the school to help the project along.
Sorting out the materials and pre-cut fabric shapes with the help of one of the teachers.The first batch of pads were hand-sewn – a skill that everyone can learn.School nurse Brenda proved to be a quick learner and soon completed her first hand-sewn sanitary pad. She completed three during the course of the workshop!The directors’s wife put one of the treadle sewing machines through it’s paces and quickly made several pads……and then went on to train sewing machine whizz, Mark, from P5.
Gender equality in action!
At the end of the workshop, the school nurse had a stack of pads for her clinic and by the next day had already given a set of washable sanitary pads plus some pants to a pupil who needed them.
We will continue to monitor the washable sanitary pads project and, in time, we hope that all the girls will have the skills to look after themselves when they reach puberty.
If you would like to learn how to make these pads yourself, a PDF instruction leaflet is available for a donation to The Uphill Trust (minimum £3 please).