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MyPad is Tackling Period Poverty in Lebanon Next item Self-Care Habits for...

MyPad is Tackling Period Poverty in Lebanon

You may have heard of period poverty, a problem that affects an estimated 500 million women worldwide. The people who experience this are unable to purchase the menstrual products they need, which means they cannot go to school or work and participate in daily life activities.
Period poverty not only causes physical challenges but also mental and emotional ones. It can make women feel guilty for menstruating, and the stigma surrounding periods prevents them from even talking about it.

Unfortunately, Lebanon is experiencing a huge surge of women who can no longer afford period hygiene products, too. This worrying trend sees no sign of abating with the current crippling economic crisis that has caused the price of menstrual pads to sky rocket – as much as 500%!

The impact of inflation on this basic hygiene product is pretty shocking; the average pack of period pads that used to cost 3,000 Lira now ranges from 13,000 to 35,000 Lira (depending on the brand). As a result, an estimated 41% of women have reduced their consumption of pads. Instead, many women are using replacements, such as torn bits from T-shirts, towels, newspapers, or even children’s diapers. However, some of the alternative products are not even safe and can put women at higher risk of getting urinary and genital infections.

At The Wellness Project we recently discovered that the Lebanese Food Bank (LFB), an amazing organization that distributes food to the needy all over Lebanon, is now helping to alleviate period poverty. We spoke to Soha Zaiter, the Executive Director of LFB, to better understand how her team got involved with this great cause.

Discovering a Need Among Vulnerable Women

Soha explained that while the LFB were on the ground meeting their beneficiaries delivering food boxes, they personally saw the need for other necessities, and the menstrual hygiene products were in very high demand. “Over and over we were meeting women, and most of them mothers in households, telling us that they needed period pads because they could no longer afford them.”

Soha and her team first consulted with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) in Lebanon who put them in touch with all the organizations supporting marginalized women in Lebanon. “We started by helping out the women in these NGOs because we knew they were in need of hygiene products. We began by offering period packs directly to the women in ABAAD, KAFA and other women-centric organizations. Many of these women were victims of domestic and sexual abuse and found shelter in these NGOs,” explains Soha.

LFB put together period packs to distribute. Each pack consists of six boxes of pads that could sustain the women for two months. Thanks to both the local and international donations coming in for LFB, they could regularly provide many marginalized women with their packs, covering remote rural areas reaching as far as Akkar, Tripoli and Chouf.

On October 1 of this year, LFB officially launched MyPad, the period initiative in partnership with Dawrati and Lebanon of Tomorrow. Dawrati (“My turn” in Arabic referring to the menstrual cycle) has been working relentlessly towards tackling period poverty in Lebanon since 2020, while Lebanon of Tomorrow, another great NGO, is providing the people in need with food aid, social support and medical aid. “Lebanon of Tomorrow is putting together hygiene kits, which includes shower gels, period pads, tampons and shaving blades, thanks to the generous help that is coming from overseas donations,” explains Soha. It is clear that these three amazing aid organizations are pulling their resources together to do their share to fight menstrual poverty while also helping each other roll out this important campaign.

Awareness Raising

In addition to providing hygiene products, the purpose of this initiative is to raise awareness about this issue. “Menstrual cycles are not a choice but a natural biological phenomenon. Access to feminine pads is a right and a priority for all women. This is the message we want to spread. It is important to immerse the new generation in this issue and talk with them openly. Only then can we improve the menstruation experience for everyone,” says Soha.

With the help of Dawrati, MyPad is currently spreading awareness in schools. They hope to reach 20,000 schools throughout the country, starting with the public then the private schools. They wish to spread menstrual related knowledge and education, including the practice of taking care of one-self and one’s body during menstruation.

If you want to help MyPad achieve its mission to reduce period poverty, you can donate money via their funding site:
https://fundhope.com/campaign/help-us-secure-women-pads-to-end-period-poverty ,
or you can provide in-kind donations, such as giving them period hygiene products which you can drop off at their Sin El Fil office (Rizkallah & Botrous Center). You can also call them on +961 1 510499 and talk to one of their representatives for inquiries.

Finally, let me leave you with two short clips from the MyPad campaign. First is an animated explanation of period poverty and the latter is a shocking short video of how marginalized women can be subjected to abuse, and how it can play out during their periods.
https://www.instagram.com/p/CUfZ7kgMNPW/?utm_medium=copy_link
https://www.instagram.com/tv/CViUvJwo9p0/?utm_medium=copy_link

Hope this story gives you a better understanding of period poverty in Lebanon. Like with any crisis, spreading awareness is key to improving any situation. So, let’s spread the word and make a positive difference! If you have any comments or suggestions, do share them with us as we always love to hear from you.

References:
First picture reference: https://awwaperiodcare.com/pages/end-period-poverty
All other images shown were provided by Lebanese Food Bank