Hello from Nepal! I hope you are happy and healthy. This week’s post is going to be different than any before it, and different from any that will come after. It is the only post in the series that is not written by me. Why would an author that is promoting his books and the charity project related to them post writing by someone else? Because the writing below is that important and I can’t tell you what it is about in as informed a manner as the person that wrote it. That person is the organizer of the women’s health project addressed in the article below. Her name is Thinley Wangmo Lama.
Many social issues are just starting to get the attention in Asia that they have enjoyed in the West since the 1960s. Women’s health concerns, rights, and equality are among the issues at the top of that list. I hope you will join Wangmo and the many other dedicated people in Nepal, and throughout Asia and the world, that are making great efforts to right the inequities and injustices that women have suffered for thousands of years. A closer look will reveal that every living thing — not just our mothers, sisters, and wives — have suffered severely from the lack of respect that our worldwide culture often directs toward women. The fact that more attention has been given to providing men with artificial erections than has been given to providing women with authentic healthcare shows a criminal lack of common sense and common decency in our society. Unless that lack is addressed and remedied, there is little chance for the survival of our species. Until the kind, compassionate, nurturing aspects of the feminine presence gain as much prominence in our earthly function as the constructive, productive, and destructive drives of the masculine presence, we don’t stand a chance.
Please join Wangmo and folks like her around the world in taking the basic steps toward helping these needy women on the Tibet/Nepali border to stay alive and healthy. By doing so, you will also be taking a big step toward repairing a long-standing social injustice that has done great damage to us all.
This is a project to raise funds for Limi women who don’t have easy access to sanitary pads.
Our aim is to donate eco-friendly washable cloth sanitary pads (EcoPads) for approximately 250 women living in the remote village of Humla, Nepal called Limi.
We also aim to generate a positive attitude towards periods among the Limi community in Kathmandu and Limi Valley. We hope to make them comfortable to talk about periods in a shame-free way.
How did we start this project?
This project took birth during the COVID-19 pandemic when we heard about the situation in Limi regarding the food shortage due to lockdown. Access to Limi is immensely restricted because of its challenging topography and lack of transportation infrastructure.
For the people in Limi, it takes a minimum of 2 to 4 walking days to reach a market area. During that conversation, the sanitary pad topic came up! How are the women managing without the supply of pads? Periods do not stop when the supply stops. After much discussion, we realized that the Limi women still face serious challenges when it comes to managing their periods. It is still considered taboo and a matter of embarrassment.
Women should not feel shameful for something like Periods that occur naturally and should not be put at a disadvantage due to this.
So, we could either do something about it or just let it be as always. We simply decided to do something about it! Period!
Background: — Menstrual Hygiene in Limi
Most of the women in Limi Valley still don’t own underwear and those having underwears feel shy to even dry it out in the open. Periods are rarely discussed openly and considered “impurity” coming out from the women’s body.
Like most of the women in any village area, the women in Limi have been using pads made of old/used clothes and only recently they have started using disposable sanitary pads. However, they consider sanitary pads as a luxury item and not a necessity. Of course, considering the costs of sanitary pads in the market, the people in the village would rather spend the money on food supplies.
On one hand, the pads made of old used clothes are uncomfortable and unhygienic. It can cause vaginal health issues and infections. On the other hand, the disposable sanitary pads are usually out of stock and not easily accessible due to the remote location and such pads lead to non-biodegradable waste.
As per research, disposable sanitary pads are partly made of plastic and can take as much as 200 years to decompose.
Therefore, looking for a long-term sustainable solution, EcoPads seems like the best option. An EcoPad can be reused for up to three years if washed and dried properly.
EcoPads can be reused for up to three years with proper care. However, it is essential to wash the EcoPads properly and dry them under sunlight.
EcoPads are cost-effective over time. Most women re-use their EcoPads for at least three to five years, which means about three years of not having to buy disposable pads each month!
3. Environmentally Friendly
Let’s take Nepal into consideration. The majority of women in Nepal use disposable pads. On average, a woman uses 15 pads per month, that’s around 8000 pads over the course of her lifetime. That’s just the waste from a single person. What about the whole of Nepal?
Now, do the math and add in people from countries all over the world. That is a crazy amount of garbage.
4. Health Benefits
The manufacturers use artificial fragrance, synthetic ingredients, and plastic in disposable pads which can cause allergic reactions. You will notice that the cloth pads do not irritate your skin when used correctly.
5. No issue of running “out of stock” for a remote place like Limi
It takes a minimum of 2 to 4 walking days to reach a market area for the people in Limi. The disposable sanitary pads usually go out of stock, so by using EcoPads, this problem can be solved.
How this PROJECT is going to work?
Step 1: Collect Donations to buy EcoPads
Step 2: Conduct workshops in Kathmandu — #Normalizeperiods and generate awareness about usage of ecopads
Step 3: Buy good quality EcoPads.
Step 4: Go to Limi Valley — Target Date: August 2021 — Distribute the EcoPads for free and stay there for few weeks:-
1. Conduct workshops — Make them aware that periods are normal and not to feel shy about it.
2. Focus on the younger girls. Talk to them about periods in a shame-free way and teach them how to manage their periods.
3. Ask the men in the family to be more supportive when the women are menstruating.
4. If possible, teach them how to make their own EcoPads so that they can be self-sufficient.
Step 5: Select a few volunteers at the local level to evaluate the project outcomes. If successful, distribute the next batch of EcoPads within 1–2 years. If not successful, visit Limi again to evaluate the situation.
What do we need?
1. We need your donation to buy these EcoPads. There are approximately 250 women in Limi Village who are menstruating. Each woman needs at least 10–15 pads for healthy use.
Since this is the first time introducing ecopads to the Limi women, we plan to give only 5 pads at the initial distribution.
The average cost of a good quality EcoPad is Rs.200/- Therefore, we need around NPR 2,50,000/-
2. We are also planning to donate one EcoPad each to Limi women living in Kathmandu. There are approximately 200 Limi women in Kathmandu. Therefore, we need around NPR 40,000/-
3. We need additional money for traveling expenses to Limi village, air cargo/ shipping expenses, and to pay the volunteers. Therefore, we need around NPR 2,50,000/-
In total, we need around NPR 5,40,000/- (USD 5000/-) to make this project possible.
Therefore, with your support, our long-term goal is to donate EcoPads to this area every 3 years so that we can provide them a healthier life and fulfill this very basic necessity of every woman.
Let’s unite for our women who are our mother, sister, aunt, cousin, and relative. Let’s unite for women who are in need.
Please donate as much as possible within your capacity. No amount is small or big. Every contribution counts.
Maybe this means not eating at a cafe once, or not indulging in a Starbucks Coffee this week, or not buying a new pair of shoes this month. We request you to donate that amount for the welfare of women living in Limi.
Together we can make this happen.
Please donate through their GoFundMe platform gf.me/u/zmgqi4
Kindly share this on your social media pages.
Thank You and Best Wishes
Be well, Tenzin