“Menarche is an important biological milestone in a woman’s life. Unfortunately, due to lack of knowledge on menstruation preparedness and management or due to shyness and embarrassment the situation becomes worse for girls. Menstruation is a natural process but it is still a curse to some girls because they have no knowledge of it and do not know how to go about it,” Ayishetu Tijani, a Ghanaian social entrepreneur, told Savvy.
“Menstruation and menstrual practices faced with many social, cultural, and religious restrictions coupled with humiliation and stigmatizations are some big barriers in the path of the menstrual hygiene management. In many parts of the country especially in rural areas in Ghana, girls are not prepared and not aware of menstruation so they face many difficulties and challenges.”
“Little, inaccurate, or incomplete knowledge about menstruation is a great hindrance in the path of personal and menstrual hygiene management. Girls and women have very little to no knowledge about reproductive tract infections caused due to ignorance of personal hygiene during menstruation. In urban and some rural areas, girls and women do have access to sanitary products but they know very little about the types and method of using them or are unable to afford such products due to high cost.”
“Most of these sanitary pads produced are disposable. These women who use them manage them differently. When they are at home, they dispose of menstrual products in domestic wastes and in public toilets and they flush them in the toilets without knowing the consequences of choking, hence causing environmental pollution and health hazards.”
“I remember growing up as a child having my period and did not know what it was and how to go about not staining my dress. I will usually wear heavy underwear such as jeans to prevent staining my dress. In addition, I will not drink much and eat so that I don’t bleed much. Until one day I was writing an examination, then I felt this heavy flow, my underwear and uniform were wet.”
“I was done with answering my questions but had to sit there until everyone submitted their papers. I then used my question paper to clean the stain on my desk and tied a pullover on my waist to cover the stain behind me. That day I couldn’t sit the whole day and all I wanted was for the day to be over. I believe there are many more young girls like me out there today going through what I went through.”
Tijani Ayishetu is a teacher and a social entrepreneur. Through Kaylacares Reusable Cloth Pads, she is creating awareness of menstruation, menstrual hygiene management, and the introduction of eco-friendly sanitary pads. “Reusable sanitary pads are a sustainable sanitary option, which must be hygienically washed and dried in the sunlight. The heat from the Sun is a natural sterilizer, thus drying the cloth pads under the Sun sterilizes them for future use. These cloth pads are reusable so they are cost-effective, readily available, and eco-friendly. They also need to be stored in a clean dry place for reuse to avoid contamination.”
When asked about the groups of people who will benefit from her project, she said, “Our target customers are girls and women in the rural areas who need to be educated on menstrual hygiene and do not have access to hygienic, quality sanitary pads. We also hope to penetrate into the urban cities by creating awareness of how these disposable pads are causing harm to the environment, thus getting them to be environmentally conscious, thus accepting our reusable pads.”
Kaylacares generates revenue through the sales of its reusable pads. Ayishetu projects that within the first 24 months, Kaylacares will sell about 200 cloth pads every month for the first quarter, 300 pads every month for the second quarter, 400 every month for the third quarter, and 500 every month for the last quarter. She said her reusable cloth pads are made with African prints and other quality material that absorb properly and prevent leakage. “They will also be in a wide range of designs, size, and styles to fit our customers’ choice and they will come with wet bags so that our customers could easily change and store the used ones very properly in a bag. The pads are made with adjustable wings to make our customers feel comfortable,” Ayishetu said.
Ayishetu believes her pads make girls and women feel comfortable and regain their self-esteem. She also believes her pads would improve menstrual hygiene, thus preventing reproductive tract infections caused by poor personal hygiene during menstruation.
Ayishetu Tijani is a 2021 Savvy Fellow from Ghana. He is the Founder of Kaylacares Reusable Cloth Pads.