AFRIpads and Liliane Fonds

AFRIpads and Liliane Fonds: Pioneering Menstrual Health for Women with Disability

Menstrual health transcends beyond a mere health concern; it is a human rights issue. The ability to manage menstruation with dignity is a crucial aspect of bodily autonomy, yet millions globally lack access to essential menstrual products and adequate facilities. This year’s Menstrual Hygiene Day theme, “Together for a #PeriodFriendlyWorld,” underscores the urgency of addressing this widespread challenge.

Women and girls with disabilities face compounded barriers when it comes to menstrual health. They are often marginalized in discussions on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), face societal exclusion, and lack adequate resources and support. These challenges are magnified by gender inequality, poverty, and cultural stigmas, which can severely impact their social and economic participation.

Together for a #PeriodFriendlyWorld

AFRIpads and Liliane Fonds: Pioneering Menstrual Health for Women with Disability

To bridge these gaps, AFRIpads and the Liliane Fonds have embarked on a pioneering project aimed at improving menstrual health management for women and girls with disabilities. This initiative, conducted in partnership with local organizations such as YPPDF, AVSI, KCH, UNAC, and IDIWA, will run a six-month pilot in five regions of Uganda.

The AFRIpads and Liliane Fonds initiative enhances menstrual health for women and girls with disabilities through social support, education, and access to menstrual products. By engaging families and communities, the project combats stigma and discrimination. It provides comprehensive training on menstrual health management, including the use of reusable AFRIpads, tailored to various disabilities. Participants receive menstrual health kits to offer a sustainable solution. In february, community workers, parents, and young women with disabilities were trained to deliver and follow up on menstrual health education within their communities.

A significant component of the initiative is to gather disaggregated data to understand better the menstrual health needs and experiences of women and girls with disabilities. This data will inform future interventions and policies, ensuring they are inclusive and effective.

After a thorough baseline study in February, trainings were given by young women with disabilities in the communities about menstrual health and using the reusable AFRIpads to women with disabilities and their family members that menstruate (mothers, sisters, aunties) in March and April.

The project recognizes the unique challenges faced by women and girls with disabilities, including severe and multiple disabilities, and aims to provide tailored support. This includes sensitizing caregivers on menstrual hygiene and self-care practices, ensuring they can offer appropriate support during menstruation.

Impact and Insights

The impact of our training programs has been profound. During follow-up visits, we observed a significant transformation. About 85% of the girls with disabilities reported gaining confidence, particularly in tracking their menstrual cycles effectively. This newfound knowledge has empowered them to manage their menstruation with dignity and independence.

Moreover, girls and women with disabilities have shared their positive experiences with AFRIpads products. They highlighted the quality and reliability of these products, noting how their peers admire and appreciate them. Feedback from 90% of the participants indicated high satisfaction with AFRIpads, emphasizing the importance of providing accessible, high-quality menstrual products to all girls, regardless of their disabilities.

These stories of change and empowerment inspire us to continue our efforts. By addressing menstrual health challenges, we are not only improving the health and well-being of girls with disabilities but also fostering a more inclusive and supportive community.