Ruby Cup Breaks Menstrual Taboos in Developing World

(3BL Media/Justmeans) Women and girls living in the Western world or in advanced economies have a choice of sanitary products when the walk into a chemist, supermarket or general store. It is everyday life —each and every month—but not for everyone, especially not for women and girls living in developing countries. Here, they face problems when they menstruate, because they cannot afford sanitary pads or tampons. Instead, they use whatever they can, from bark to mud, to newspaper, cloth and even pieces of mattress. How humiliating this must be: something taken for granted by many of us, yet overlooked in other parts of the world. Having a period in these communities is a barrier to development and has a significant impact on education, gender, equality and basic human dignity.

Studies show that girls miss up to 20 per cent of their school time each year because they are afraid of staining their clothes during their period and instead, stay at home. This absence causes some girls to drop out of school entirely. Lacking proper sanitary products, girls and women are forced to use degrading solutions which do not absorb well and frequently pose serious health implications in the form of infections and diseases. Plus, making disposable pads available to women in developing countries poses a serious environmental problem, as there is rarely a proper way to handle this kind of waste.

A solution is the Ruby Cup, an eco-friendly conversation starter to further education about reproductive health. One Ruby Cup can take a girl all the way through primary school, secondary school and college without having to worry about their menstruation. The Ruby Cup is made by Makit, an award-winning social business with passion and drive for creating social change. Makit’s mission is to provide a sustainable and healthy menstrual hygiene solution to women and girls globally. This innovative product is the winner of The Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition 2012 (U.S.); Venture Cup 2012 (Denmark), a Sustainia100 Solution, Finalist in Ben & Jerry's Join Our Core 2012 (EU); recipient of the Future Impact Award 2nd prize 2012 (Switzerland) and has been nominated for the German Engagement Prize (2013.)

The Ruby Cup team has found that education is crucial when it comes to the adoption of sanitary products. Women they meet have lots of questions about menstruation, the answers to which are not always available at school or at home. The questions range from “Why do I bleed every month?” to “Where does the blood come from?” From these conversations the Ruby Cup team learned that talking about menstrual hygiene needed a broader approach. So, they developed educational materials, which included drawings of the female reproductive organs and explanations for where babies come from and why women bleed every month.

The UN has stated that unsanitary menstrual hygiene protection is an overlooked problem that hinders achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of universal education and gender equality. Ruby Cup supports breaking this taboo.  

Photo Credit: The Ruby Cup Website