Source Newsroom: Columbia University School of Nursing
Newswise — In Ethiopia, menstrual supplies are practically nonexistent. Rather than risk the embarrassment of bleeding through their clothes, many girls stay home from school during their cycle each month, which causes them to fall behind in their studies and often drop out of school altogether.
And the problem isn’t limited to Ethiopia: Unicef estimates that one in 10 school-age African girls either skips school during menstruation or drops out entirely because of lack of sanitation.
But Mary Moran, a Columbia University School of Nursing professor, found a solution to keep Ethiopian girls in school and restore their confidence: Her organization Girls2Women developed a sanitary pad making program which teaches local Ethiopian leaders how to make pads out of colorful and durable Ethiopian cotton, which can be hung to dry in the sun after washing and reused. Moran has trained local women in more than half of the public schools in in Mekelle, a Northern Ethiopian city on how to make, wash, and maintain the pads. More than 1,000 cloth pads have been made, and the trainings have spread to schools and community centers throughout the region. As a result, hundreds of girls have continued their studies and will now graduate.
Making their own pads has given these girls a greater sense of independence. “We’ve heard many of the girls say that since using the pads they are no longer afraid to leave their houses during menstruation,” said Mary Moran, clinical instructor at Columbia University School of Nursing. “By giving them the skills to manage their menstrual cycles, we’re improving their school attendance, and providing the next generation of women with more opportunities.”
Moran and her students regularly hold sewing circles at Columbia University School of Nursing, where they create colorful pads to send to Ethiopia. In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8th, Moran and her students will be selling the items to raise money for Girls2Women at Columbia University Medical Center’s student productions of “The Vagina Monologues.” Moran will be travelling to Ethiopia from March 16th- April 2nd holding workshops in Mekelle, Addis Adaba and Bahir Dar.
Photos of Ethiopian girls making pads are available upon request. To schedule an interview with Moran, please contact Rachel Zuckerman at 212-305-4092 or firstname.lastname@example.org.