Girls in developing countries will miss out on up to one week of school every month because they’ve got their period. This usually results in them falling behind in class, and eventually dropping out. In many developing countries, menstruation equals inequality.
LaunchPad delivers affordable, biodegradable sanitary pads to women and girls in Sierra Leone, using a network of female entrepreneurs and school systems.
LaunchPad’s sanitary pad products have been carefully designed and selected based on the needs of our customers, cultural taboos and the environment. LaunchPad sells affordable eco-friendly sanitary that are sourced from Uganda through our partner
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
We have conducted surveys with 500 women across 10 communities and LaunchPad was created in response to what the women told as they wanted. Here are some of the questions we’re asked regularly.
WHY DON’T YOU USE REUSABLE FABRIC PADS INSTEAD?
After surveying 500 women and girls, we discovered that many of them find it embarrassing to have to wash their soiled cloth in public washing areas.
Because Sierra Leone is a developing country, they don’t have the same hygenic means of washing as we do. The washing is often done in open water sources, and naturally, there is a lot of bacteria in this water. Once washed, the soiled cloth can’t be hung out in the sun to dry (due to the taboo around menstrual blood), therefore the cloth is dried indoors in very humid conditions. As a result, the material often doesn’t dry fully, and women are forced to wear damp cloth which is a breeding ground for diseases.
WHAT ABOUT DIVA CUPS/ MOON CUPS/ TAMPONS?
More than 90% of the women in Sierra Leone have undergone Female Genital Cutting (FGC). This means that they find it incredibly painful to insert anything into their bodies.
Additionally, virginity is valued very highly in Sierra Leone. Teenage girls would be unable to use tampons or cups for fear of ruining their future chance of marriage.
It is generally considered taboo to use any of these products in developing countries, therefore the reliable sanitary pad is a much more socially acceptable option!
WHY DON’T YOU GIVE ALL THE PADS AWAY FOR FREE?
Women in Sierra Leone don’t find hand-outs empowering. We’ve had women tell us directly “We don’t want free things, we want business. We’re business women, work with us.” Research has also shown that when people pay for a product, they are much more likely to use it – they’ve made a personal investment in it so they’ll put it to good use.
The pads we sell are still subsidised, however by taking in a small cut off each of the pad, it does reduce some of the funding pressure on our organisation, thus making the project more sustainable in the long run.