Feminine hygiene products are a necessity for women in the United States and internationally, while the low-cost and easy access to these products are taken for granted. In Guatemala, the basic needs for proper feminine hygiene can often be too costly for women and girls forcing them to go without every month. During menstruation, women are left finding household items, like rags, or other unsanitary means to absorb their flows. Some women choose to stay home from work, missing out on earned wages, while young girls often stay home from school during their periods or they drop out entirely once they hit puberty. Not only is this a serious issue for the physical health of women in Guatemala, but contributes to the gender wage gap and fair access to education.
One organization, More Than Self, has been operating for nearly three years to provide education and access to feminine hygiene in Guatemala. Based in Arizona, Gail Basham CEO and founder, leads the foundation’s programs focused on education, health, economic empowerment and more. Within the health framework, Gail fabricates and distributes eco-sanitary pads, which are generally made from washable, reusable, cotton-scrap fabric and felt. She also trains women to make these sanitary pads, either with sewing machines or hand sewing
In partnership with our Community Health Program, Gail visited the Maya Traditions artisan communities and educated the women on feminine health, explained how to use the sanitary pads and donated two kits to each artisan. Each kit contains eight reusable pads and two holders. Gail also provided instructions on how to sew the kits so that our artisan partners can continue making and distributing the kits to women and girls in their communities.
We are so grateful for organizations like More Than Self for supporting our artisans and their communities. These kits and the skills to create them will prove to be financially beneficial for our artisan communities while providing a hygienic alternative.