In a small factory in Kayamandi township, Stellenbosch, a group of seven women are doing so much more than producing quality, reusable sanitary pads; they are restoring the dignity of young women and girls and enabling them to stay in school or at work during their periods.
Lady Talk Matters is a global charity foundation founded by Andrea Turkovic. Andrea, who divides her time between Stellenbosch in South Africa and Chamonix in France, describes the vision of the charity, which is to improve the lives of girls and women by normalising menstrual health.In South Africa, 30% of girls miss 27 days of school every year because they are bleeding. That’s almost 15% of the school days in a year. Lady Talk Matters works to ensure that basic period products are provided to women and girls in need. The sanitary packs are ethically manufactured in a small factory in Kayamandi. Currently, local ladies are trained and employed to make these durable products. The pads are produced using quality raw materials to ensure that the products are not only long-lasting but also safe to use, even in under-resourced settings. The pads are made using a leak-proof backing layer, a microfibre core, and a bamboo-charcoal layer that has both antimicrobial and anti-odour properties. The packs of pads contain three standard-length and one extra-length pad (for night-time use) and with proper care, can last for up to three years. The clever waterproof bag also provides the user with extra dignity as it can be used to store used pads until they can be washed. To date, Lady Talk Matters has manufactured and donated over 30,000 pads.
Together with the pads, Lady Talk Matters provides education on menstrual and female reproductive health to young learners. The presentations are aligned with the current South African Life Orientation curriculum and are presented in a straightforward and factual manner. Taboos around menstruation begin at this early age when boys and girls are separated during Life Orientation classes. It reinforces the impression that women’s menstrual health matters are shameful and secretive. By providing education to both boys and girls, this taboo can be removed to allow for open conversation.
Lady Talk Matters relies on donations or money generated from the sale of the packs. Just R100 can keep a girl in school for an extra 90 days! By giving women and girls dignity and providing them with the information they need to advocate for their own menstrual health, Lady Talk Matters is working towards their mission of living in a world where everyone, regardless of gender, age, race, or socio-economic status, is able to talk openly about female menstrual health matters.
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