Image: Arian Zwegers
One of the most shocking statistics I’ve come across when researching for this campaign is that 88% of girls in India use unsafe methods to manage their periods. The most common method is reusable old cloth, but women also resort to ashes, newspaper, dried leaves and husk to try and deal with menstruation. It’s so hard to even imagine how difficult something like that would be to deal with, combined with the immense stigma present regarding menstruation , which we have covered a little on the blog. That’s where a brand like Eco Femme comes in.
Why Love Them?
A female-led social enterprise (GIRL POWER!) based in India, Eco Femme’s goal is to create social change through “healthy, environmentally sustainable, culturally responsive and empowering” menstrual practices. In addition to producing and selling washable pads made from cloth, they also do amazing work providing menstrual education to adolescents! Just a couple of weeks ago we were talking about how simply sending pads is not enough , and here’s an amazing example of education to empower communities.
Eco Femme doesn’t aim to ‘break taboos’ but instead open discussion and create dialogue, to deconstruct cultural conditioning. They also aspire to engage with the plethora of cultural traditions that make India the dynamic, amazingly complex country that it is, rather than assuming one blanket approach will be successful. They acknowledge the importance of cultural practices in the creation & binding of community rather than dismissing them. Its so important to acknowledge that although cultural practices that affect quality of women should be revised, the answer is not and will never be dismissing how communities have functioned for often hundreds of years.
Whats on Offer?
Internationally, Eco Femme sells a range of cloth panty liners, pads and are also our first featured brand to sell a reusable menstrual cup! The pads feature absorbent flannel layers inside with leakproof backing, and use press studs to attach around your underwear. They sell pads using a one-to-one program to donate the profits sold from the international pads into 4 reusable pads & a carry pouch for disadvantaged girls living in rural india!
For all those unsure about the concept of using cloth pads, did you know the average sanitary pad take 500-800 years to biodegrade completely? Thats an insane period of time (pun intended) if you consider how many pads a woman goes through in a lifetime. A menstrual cup is also a more green alternative than traditional pads or tampons, and if you’re not familiar it’s basically a silicone cup that sits inside the vagina, collecting your period blood. When it’s full, simply tip it into the loo & give it a rinse. It doesn’t have the same toxic shock risk as a tampon, so you can sleep with it in! They generally last for up to 5 years or so.