Improving female health and education in Zimbabwe

Making the sanitary pads

Title Improving female health and education in Zimbabwe
Description Train and equip over 200 women in two rural districts to manufacture affordable and re-usable sanitary pads
Status Funding request
Dates 2012
Implementing partner
Location Zimbabwe
Sector Health


Sanitary towels or tampons in Zimbabwe are extremely expensive and beyond the reach of most young girls and women from poor families. Our project will train and equip over 200 women in two rural districts to manufacture affordable and re-usable sanitary pads. By this we aim to reduce infections amongst over 4,400 women and girls, support women to generate income, increase school attendance and help girls understand what to expect as they enter puberty.

Due to poverty, thousands of young girls and women are unable to afford sanitary wear to protect themselves during their menstrual flow. For those who can afford it, there are often no sanitary products available in shops and health centres.

Consequently, women and girls are forced to use rags, paper or even leaves and grass for protection, exposing themselves to serious health risks and infections, such as vaginal and urinary tract infections.

Pregnant women who need to attend a clinic or hospital are required by medical institutions to bring their own sanitary wear. This is impossible for poor women and they are often turned away. Women without access to hygienic sanitary pads for use after birth place themselves at a dangerously high risk of infection.

Recent surveys have shown that thousands of young girls are missing over 24 weeks of school during their education because of their inability to control their menstrual flow – the reason being lack of access to affordable and healthy sanitary wear.


We will train and provide start-up resources to a group of 200 women in the Matopo and Insiza districts to produce affordable and re-useable sanitary pads. The pads are a tried and tested design that can be washed and used many times. The products will be available for an affordable fee to thousands of women and young girls across local communities.

We will deliver a sexual health education programme for over 2,000 school-age girls and over 1,000 women across rural communities. The programme will raise awareness of the proper use and benefits of sanitary wear, help girls to understand the physical changes they are experiencing and enable mothers to support their daughters as they start to have periods.


We anticipate the project will lead to reduced levels of infection amongst women and girls, a significant increase in the number of schooldays for young girls and a decline in the rates of infection among women giving birth in clinics.

Charging a modest fee for the pads will enable 200 women to establish a sustainable business, generate an income and be more financially independent.

What we need for 2012

The total cost of the project in 2012 is £17,300, a cost of less than £12 per transformed woman. A grant of £8,650 will provide sanitary pads to over 400 women and the cost of starting almost 100 enterprises.

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