In impoverished areas around South Africa, teen pregnancy and single parenting are not the only issues that female citizens must consider. Sixty percent of women in the country do not have access to basic sanitary ware for their menstrual cycle. Glenda Tutt, founder of Mpower Menstrual Cup, is well aware of these facts.
“Women are being disempowered and stripped of their dignity on the most basic level,” said Tutt. “Pads and tampons are simply not available in impoverished communities, they too are expensive and the facilities available to them do not allow for adequate disposal.”
After Tutt experienced her own economic difficulties during a menstrual cycle, she decided it would be the last. She took the concept of a menstrual cup, and created it to ‘MPower’ woman and girls of all ages.
Made locally from 100% medical grade silicone, the MPower Menstrual Cup is designed to hold up to almost three times as much fluid in comparison to an average tampon or sanitary pad. The cup is also easy to clean and can last for a minimum of five years, making the product far more cost effective than most sanitary ware.
Research shows that a woman will use up to 240 pads a year, which calculates to 1200 pads over a five year period. “The MPower Cup, will save R2,280 over five years, which without inflation works out to be R10 000 over a lifetime,” said Tutt.
Women who don’t have access to pads or tampons will resort to unconventional means to protect their clothes from stains. This includes using rags, toilet paper, newspaper, leaves, recycled tampons and pads as well as disposable nappies. Not only are these substitutes unsanitary and harmful, but girls with no access to pads or tampons will often skip school during their cycle, usually missing seven to 10 days a month, compromising their education. Tutt plans to change this, with a goal “to provide more than one million women with a sustainable sanitary solution by 2015.”
In a country where more than 160 million pads and tampons are thrown away each month, the MPower Cup is an innovative health product which is neither harmful to the body nor the environment. It is non-toxic, portable, easy to store and easy to clean – even for women who do not have access to constant running water.
Tutt’s menstrual cup is providing dignity for women of all ages, and empowering them to lead a normal, healthy lifestyle.
You can donate R195 to sponsor an Mpower cup. For more information, check out MPower Menstrual Cup
Sub-editor Suzy Lindquist