Menstruation! There, I Said It!
I apologize in advance to those who are “ick”ed out by today's topic, but the schooling of thousands of girls could be helped by our attention to it.
I, of course, am a guy. I have never had to think about this (And hope to not think about it much more for a while, thank you very much!) For me, the phrase "Feminine Protection" refers to the fact that I am the one who goes into the kitchen at night with a baseball bat to investigate any unusual noises.* And if I need any "Feminine Protection", it means that I have made a female very angry, and she is trying to hurt me. (Survival tip: Distract them with Chocolate.)
It seems that Procter+Gamble (not those old Satanists from the 80's, but the new and improved Satan-Free P+G) has been raising awareness of the need for their sanitary absorbent products in the 3rd World. It seems that a lot of organizations, municipal and charitable alike, are doing their darnedest to provide schools for African Kids, only to have the post-pubescent girls (young women, technically) miss out on a few days of that education, every single month, because they are experiencing one of the most euphemised processes in the universe, and they don't want to ruin their school uniform, or be made fun of, or both, because of their “Girl Problems”. This adds up, and girls end up getting less educated than their male classmates., which can help lead to even more inequality down the road.
(That was totally a joke about the Satanist thing, just to be perfectly clear. This is the internet, after all, and confusion abounds, despite our best efforts!)
Well, Procter+Gamble has looked into this problem, and wants to draw attention to it, and help. I applaud this. If you want to help them help, then the program is called “Protecting Futures” and you can find out more here.**
But that's not where my 52*** dollars went this week. I gave to a different organization, called Goods 4 Girls, which takes the good that P+G is doing on the "People" side of the Responsibility Pyramid, and tacks toward the "Planet" Side, as well, getting closer to the Win-Win-Win situation at the top or the pyramid. (I am not sure where the economics comes in, but I am sure it factors in somewhere.)
This program (Started By Blogger "Crunchy Chicken", and brought to my attention by my increasingly frequent co-bloggers over at Tiny Choices), Goods 4 Girls provides, not disposable "Feminine Protection" products, but reusable, cloth pantiliners (Yeesh! I still can't believe I am blogging about this subject...) that will protect girls from embarrassment and keep them in school, without getting them "hooked" on an imported, expensive product produced in North America (One of the only things made here, it seems), and shipped on a fuel sucking barge all the way to the shores of Ethiopia, Namibia, South Africa, and Zambia. (Goods for Girls is based in Kenya and Uganda, so they are not "competing" with the Procter+Gamble program. If this cause really appeals to you, and you really want to cover your bases, you can support both programs, but see footnote 2 before you sign anything.)
Once the girls are adults, and out of school, their feminine needs will persist, but the free supplies will not. You can bet that they will be very "brand loyal" customers, and will be as acclimated to disposables as most westerners are now. As a matter of fact, most women reading this probably can't imagine using anything other than whatever (probably disposable) product they are using now. Moms who are eco-conscious enough to not put their babies in disposable diapers may still recoil at the thought of doing away with their own disposable products. There are plenty of more planet-conscious alternatives out there, although I won't go into them here. Crunchy Chicken has quite a bit more info for you ladies. Men, If you are still reading, don't follow the above link. Seriously. Don't.
Goods 4 Girls is a modest step in the right direction, and while there is certainly room for improvement and growth in their organization, I am happy to support their efforts.
**You can't actually Donate money directly to the "Protecting Futures" program. (Except by buying their overpriced name-brand at the supermarket, of which "A Portion" will go to this program.) You can donate to their Partner Charity, The UNA-USA "Hero" program, but I would not recommend it. A Charity Navigator Search reveals that less than 80% of your dollar will go to program expenses, the rest of it being used for Promotions, and a wildly out-of scale CEO pay.
***Actually, It was 54, because you can't currently donate directly to G4G, either. (Late Update: yes you can! but by paper check only.) Buying 10 pads (Actually 12, with the Buy-4-Get-1-Free deal) put me just slightly over my self-imposed 52 dollar a week target.